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  • The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read
    The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed.

    One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva.

    A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

    Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella.

    The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant.

    Historical Perspective

    These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing.

    In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others.

    The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat.

    With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations.

    As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context.

    Why May 2024?

    The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place.

    They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years..

    A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions.

    The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations.

    This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO.

    The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva.

    Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent.

    Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different.

    The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm.

    To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below.

    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement.

    REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024

    Preamble

    Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.

    This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm.

    Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

    This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed.

    Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness.

    In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes.

    Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services,

    As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations.

    These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective.

    Chapter I. Introduction

    Article 1. Use of terms

    (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern.

    This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022.

    (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality.

    This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response.

    “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

    While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people.

    Article 2. Objective

    This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern.

    Article 3. Principles

    2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation

    The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary.

    3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.

    This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda).

    Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact.

    5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics

    As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes.

    The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity.

    Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these.

    In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events.

    Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance

    2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate:

    (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

    (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.]

    The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations.

    The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work.

    6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article.

    Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs.

    Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?)

    Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new).

    Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery

    2. Each Party commits…[to] :

    (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations

    (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure

    (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies

    (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems

    This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking.

    (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

    This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision.

    Article 7. Health and care workforce

    This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for:

    4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment…

    Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so.

    Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews

    1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system.

    2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels.

    Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries.

    Article 9. Research and development

    Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?).

    Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production

    Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations.

    Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how

    This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc.

    Article 12. Access and benefit sharing

    This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials.

    3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]:

    (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party;

    (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs),

    Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this.

    The article then becomes yet more concerning:

    6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer:

    (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties;

    (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, …

    It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight.

    The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment.

    8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible.

    The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit.

    10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality.

    The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine.

    The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products.

    It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity.

    Article 13. Supply chain and logistics

    The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products.

    Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it).

    For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase.

    Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions

    While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing.

    Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening

    This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort.

    Article 15. Liability and compensation management

    1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms…

    2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations.

    This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does.

    This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm.

    Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk.

    These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation

    A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement.

    Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

    A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries).

    However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed).

    Article 18. Communication and public awareness

    1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation…

    2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies.

    The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss.

    As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement.

    Article 19. Implementation and support

    3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005).

    As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other.

    Article 20. Sustainable financing

    1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall:

    (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);…

    This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it.

    3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005)

    This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva.

    It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking.

    Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions

    Article 21. Conference of the Parties

    1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established.

    2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

    This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion.

    Articles 22 – 37

    These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues.

    Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU).

    The WHO will provide the secretariat.

    Under Article 24 is noted:

    3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns.

    These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement.

    As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.”

    Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public.

    Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time.

    Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it.

    Further reading:

    WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website:

    https://inb.who.int/

    International Health Regulations Working Group website:

    https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

    On background to the WHO texts:

    Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide
    An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations
    On urgency and burden of pandemics:

    https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic

    Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy
    Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk
    Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement:

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

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    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/

    https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed. One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva. A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB). Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella. The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant. Historical Perspective These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing. In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others. The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat. With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations. As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context. Why May 2024? The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place. They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years.. A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions. The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations. This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO. The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva. Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent. Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different. The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm. To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below. The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement. REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024 Preamble Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm. Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed. Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness. In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes. Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services, As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations. These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective. Chapter I. Introduction Article 1. Use of terms (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern. This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022. (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality. This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response. “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people. Article 2. Objective This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern. Article 3. Principles 2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary. 3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda). Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact. 5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes. The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity. Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these. In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events. Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance 2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate: (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.] The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations. The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work. 6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article. Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs. Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?) Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new). Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery 2. Each Party commits…[to] : (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking. (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision. Article 7. Health and care workforce This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for: 4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment… Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so. Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews 1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system. 2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries. Article 9. Research and development Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?). Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations. Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc. Article 12. Access and benefit sharing This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials. 3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]: (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party; (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs), Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this. The article then becomes yet more concerning: 6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer: (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties; (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, … It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight. The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment. 8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible. The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit. 10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality. The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine. The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products. It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity. Article 13. Supply chain and logistics The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products. Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it). For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase. Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing. Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort. Article 15. Liability and compensation management 1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms… 2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations. This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does. This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm. Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk. These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak. Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement. Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries). However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed). Article 18. Communication and public awareness 1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation… 2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies. The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss. As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement. Article 19. Implementation and support 3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005). As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other. Article 20. Sustainable financing 1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall: (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);… This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it. 3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005) This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva. It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking. Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions Article 21. Conference of the Parties 1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established. 2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion. Articles 22 – 37 These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues. Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU). The WHO will provide the secretariat. Under Article 24 is noted: 3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns. These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement. As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.” Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public. Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time. Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it. Further reading: WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website: https://inb.who.int/ International Health Regulations Working Group website: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html On background to the WHO texts: Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations On urgency and burden of pandemics: https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement: Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/ https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
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    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic.
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  • The IDF’s war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society
    Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave.


    Three months into Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the atrocities the IDF has committed against Palestinians are too numerous to name. Israel is staging a prolonged assault on the Palestinian people’s very means of existence—destroying homes, hospitals, sanitation infrastructure, food and water sources, schools, and more. To understand the genocidal campaign unfolding before our eyes, we must examine the roots of Israeli society. Israel is a settler colonial state whose existence depends on the elimination of Palestinians. Accordingly, Israel is a deeply militarized society whose citizens are raised in an environment of historical revisionism and indoctrination that whitewashes Israel’s crimes while cultivating a deep-seated racism against Palestinians. Miko Peled, former IDF Special Forces and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, joins The Chris Hedges Report for a frank conversation on the distortions of history and reality at the foundations of Israeli identity.

    Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino
    Post-Production: Adam Coley

    Transcript

    Chris Hedges: The Israeli army, known as the Israel Defense Force or IDF, is integral to understanding Israeli society. Nearly all Israelis do three years of military service, most continue to serve in the reserves until middle age. Its generals often retire to occupy senior positions in government and industry. The dominance of the military in Israeli society helps explain why war, militaristic nationalism, and violence are so deeply embedded in Zionist ideology.

    Israel is the outgrowth of a militarized settler colonial movement that seeks its legitimacy in biblical myth. It has always sought to solve nearly every conflict; The ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians known as the Nakba or catastrophe in the years between 1947 and 1949, the Suez War of 1956, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Arab neighbors, the two invasions of Lebanon, the Palestinian intifadas, and the series of military strikes on Gaza, including the most recent, with violence. The long campaign to occupy Palestinian land and ethnically cleanse Palestinians is rooted in the Zionist paramilitaries that formed the Israeli state and continue within the IDF.

    The overriding goal of settler colonialism is the total conquest of Palestinian land. The few Israeli leaders who have sought to reign in the military, such as Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, have been pushed aside by the generals. The military setbacks suffered by Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, and during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon only fuel the extreme nationalists who have abandoned all pretense of a liberal democracy. They speak in the open language of apartheid and genocide. These extremists were behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s failure to live up to the Oslo Accords.

    This extremism has now been exacerbated by the attack of October 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis. The few Israelis who oppose this militaristic nationalism, especially after October 7, have been silenced and persecuted in Israel. Genocidal violence is almost exclusively the language Israeli leaders, and now Israeli citizens, use to speak to the Palestinians and the Arab world.

    Joining me to discuss the role of the military in Israeli society is Miko Peled. Miko’s father was a general in the Israeli army. Miko was a member of Israel’s special forces and, although disillusioned with the military, moved from his role as a combatant to that of a medic. After the 1982 war in Lebanon, he buried his service pin. He is the author of, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.

    You grew up, you were a child when your father was a general in the IDF. This inculcation of that military ethos has begun very young and begun in the schools. Can you talk about that?

    Miko Peled: Sure, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s good to be with you again and talk to you. So it begins before the military. It begins in preschool. It begins as soon as kids are able to talk and walk. I always say I knew the order of the ranks in the military before I knew my alphabet and this is true for many Israeli kids. The Israeli education system is such that it leads young Israelis to become soldiers, to serve the apartheid state, and to serve in this genocidal state, which is the state of Israel. It’s an enormous part of that. And with me, it came with mega-doses of that because when your father’s a general, and particularly of that generation of the 1967 generals, they were like gods of Olympus. Everybody knew their names.

    On Independence Day, I remember in the schools you would have little flags, not just flags of Israel, but flags of the IDF with pictures of IDF generals, pictures of the military, all kinds of military symbols, and so on. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid they still had a military parade. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable. And you hear it when you walk down the street, you hear it in the news, you hear it in conversations, you hear it in schools, you read it in the textbooks, and there’s no place to develop dissent. There’s no place to develop a sense that dissent is okay, that dissent is possible. And the few cases where people do become dissenters, it’s either because their families have a tradition of being communist or more progressive and somehow it’s part of their tradition but this is a minority of a minority. By and large, Israel stands with the army, and Israel is the army. You can’t separate Israel from its army, from its military.

    Chris Hedges: Let’s juxtapose the myth that you were taught in school about the IDF with the reality.

    Miko Peled: The myth that I was… Again, this was given to me in larger doses at home because my father and his comrades were all part of the 1948 mythology. We were small and we were resourceful, and we were clever, and therefore, in 1948, we were able to defeat these Arab armies and these Arab killers who came to try to kill us and so on and destroy our fledgling little Jewish state. And because of our heroism – And you talked about the biblical connection – Because we are the descendants of King David, and we are the descendants of the Maccabees, and we have this resourcefulness and strength in our genes, we were able to create a state and then every time they attacked, we were there. We were able to defend ourselves and prevail and so on. It’s everywhere. Then again, in my case, it’s every time the larger, more extended family got together or my parents got together with their friends. And in many cases, the fathers were also comrades in arms.

    The stories of the battles, the stories of the conquests; Every city in Israel has an IDF plaza. Street names after different units of different generals are all over the country, street names of battles, so it’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I was probably 40 or a little less than 40, that it was the first time that I encountered the other narrative, the Palestinian story, and it was unbelievable. Somebody was telling me the day is night and night is day, or the world is flat, or whatever the comparison you want to make, it was incredible. They are telling me that what I know to be true – ‘Cause I heard it in school and I read it in books and I heard it from my father and my mother and friends – That all of this is not true. And what you find out if you go along the path that I chose to take, this journey of an Israeli to Palestine, is that it was one horrifying crime against humanity.

    That’s what this so-called heroism was, it was no heroism at all. It was a well-trained, highly motivated, well-indoctrinated, well-armed militia that then became the IDF. But when it started, it was still a militia or today they would be called a terrorist organization, that went up against the people who had never had a military force, who never had a tank, who never had a warplane, who never prepared, even remotely, for battle or an assault. Then you have to make a choice: How do you bridge this? The differences are not nuanced, the differences are enormous. The choice that I made is to investigate for myself and find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. And my side was not telling the truth.

    Chris Hedges: How did they explain incidents such as the Nakba, the massacres that took place in ’48 and ’56, and the massive ethnic cleansing that took place in ’67? How was that explained to you within that mythic narrative? Many of the activities that the IDF has had to carry out are quite brutal, quite savage. The indiscriminate killing of civilians – We can talk about Gaza in a minute – What did that do to society? The people who carried out those killings, and eventually huge prisons, torture, and everything else? But let’s begin with how the myth coped with those incidents and then talk about the trauma that is carried within Israeli society for carrying out those war crimes.

    Miko Peled: My generation, we knew that there were several instances of bad apples that committed terrible crimes. And we admitted, so there was Deir Yassin, which was a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a peaceful village where a horrible massacre took place. Then we knew that Ariel Sharon was a bit of a lunatic and he took the commandos that he commanded in the ’50s and went to the West Bank and went into Gaza and committed acts of terrible massacres. He was still a hero, held in high regard by everyone, but we knew that there were certain instances… And every military, every nation makes its mistakes and then these things happen But there was never any sense that this somehow discounted or hurt the image of us being a moral army.

    There are lots of stories of how soldiers went and they decided to, out of the kindness of their hearts, they didn’t harm civilians. And those same civilians went and then warned the enemy that they were coming. And these same good Israeli soldiers would then pay the price and were killed. So it’s presented as limited cases. Nakba was not something that was ever discussed. I’m sure it’s not discussed today, certainly not in schools. In Israeli schools today, you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba. There’s a directive by the Ministry of Education that even Palestinians are not allowed to mention the Nakba. But nobody ever talked about that. And the Arabs left, what are you going to do? There was a war and all these people left and this is the way it is.

    So none of that ever hurt, in any way, the image of us being this glorious heroic army, descendants of King David, and other great traditions of Jewish heroism. None of that ever hurt itself. So there’s no trauma because we did nothing wrong. If somebody did something wrong, well, it was a case of bad apples, it was limited to a particular circumstance, a particular person, a particular unit, and you get crazy people everywhere. What are you going to do? It’s never been presented as systemic. Today, we have a history so we can look back and if we do pay attention, and if we do read the literature, and if we do listen to Palestinians – And today there’s this great NGO called Zochrot, whose mission is to maintain the memory of the towns and cities that were destroyed in 1948 and to revive the stories of what took place in 1948 – They are uncovering new massacres all the time. Because as that generation is dying off, both the Israelis who committed the crimes and the Palestinians who were still alive at the time and survived, are opening up and telling more and more stories.

    So we know of churches that were filled with civilians and were burned down. We know of a mosque in Lydd that was filled with people and a young man went and shot a Fiat missile into it. All of these horrific stories are still coming out but Israelis are not paying attention, Israelis are not listening. Whenever there’s an attack on Gaza – And as you know very well, these attacks began in the fifties with Ariel Sharon, by the way – There is always a reason. Because at first they were infiltrators, and then they were terrorists, and now they’re called Hamas, and whatever the devil’s name may be there’s always a very good reason to go in there because these are people who are raised to hate and kill and so on. So it’s a tightly-knit and tightly-orchestrated narrative that is being perpetuated and Israelis don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Chris Hedges: And yet carrying out acts of brutality. The occupation – Huge numbers, a million Israelis are in the states. Large numbers of Israelis have left the country. I’m wondering how many of those are people who have a conscience and are repulsed by what they have seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps I’m incorrect about that.

    Miko Peled: I don’t know. In the few encounters that I’ve had with Israelis in the US over the years, the vast majority support Israel, support Israel’s actions. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I got an email from someone representing a group of alumni of Jewish Day Schools. These are Zionist schools all over countries where they indoctrinate the worst Zionism: secular Zionism. And they are now appalled by the indoctrination to serve in the IDF. A very high percentage of these students grew up, went to Israel, joined the IDF, took part in APEC events, and so on. And now they’re looking back and they’re reflecting and they’re feeling a sense of anger that they were put through this and lied through their entire lives about this.

    So that’s an interesting development. And if that grows, then that might be a game changer because these are the most loyal American Jews. The most loyal to Israel. But by and large, Israelis that I meet, with few exceptions, support Israel and they’re here for whatever reasons people come to America: They’re not unique, they’re not necessarily here because they were fed up or they were angry, or they were dissenters in any way, shape, or form. Around DC and Maryland, there are many Israelis. Sometimes you’ll sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere, you hear the conversations, and there’s no lack of support for Israel among these Israelis as far as I can see.

    Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the armies. You were in the Special Forces elite unit. Talk about that indoctrination. I remember visiting Auschwitz a few years ago, and there were Israeli groups and people flying Israeli flags. But speak about that form of indoctrination and its link, in particular, to the Holocaust.

    Miko Peled: The myth is that Israel is a response to the Holocaust. And that the IDF is a response to the Holocaust; We must be strong, we must be willing to fight, and we must always have a gun in one hand or a weapon in one hand so that this will never happen again. And what’s interesting is, when you talk to Holocaust survivors who are not indoctrinated, who did not get pulled into Zionism – Which there are very, very many – They’ll say the notion that a militarized state is somehow the answer to the Holocaust is absurd because the answer to the Holocaust is tolerance and education and humanity, not violence and racism. But nobody wants to ruin a good myth with the facts. So that’s the story.

    The story is because of Auschwitz, we represent all those that were killed, perished by the Nazis, and so on, and therefore we need to be strong. And the Israeli flag represents them, and the Israeli military represents them. It’s absurd, it’s absolute madness. I went to serve in the army willingly, as most young Israelis do. In my environment, refusing or not going was not heard of, although there were some voices in the wilderness that were refusing and questioning morality. But I never did. Nobody around me ever did until I began the training and you began patrolling. I remember – You and I may have talked about this once – We were an infantry unit, a commando infantry unit. And suddenly we were given batons and these plastic handcuffs and were told to patrol in Ramallah.

    And I’m going, what the hell’s going on? What are we doing here? And then we’re told if anybody looks at you funny, you break every bone in their body. And I thought, everybody’s going to look at us, we’re commandos while marching through a city. Who’s not going to look at us? I was behind. I didn’t realize that everybody already understood that this is how it is, this is how it’s supposed to be. I thought, wait, this is wrong. Why are we doing this? We’re supposed to be the good guys here.

    And then there was the Lebanon invasion of ’82 and so on. So that broke that in my mind, that was a serious crack in the wall of belief and the wall of patriotism that was in me. But this whole notion that somehow being violent and militaristic and racist and being conquerors is somehow a response to the horrors of the Holocaust is absolute madness. But when you’re in it nobody around you is asking questions. You don’t ask questions either unless you’re willing to stand out and be smacked on the head.

    Chris Hedges: Within the military, within the IDF, how did they speak about Palestinians and Arabs?

    Miko Peled: The discourse, the hatred, the racism, is horrifying. First of all, they’re the animals. They’re nothing. It’s a joke, you see, it’s horrifying. They think it’s funny to stop people and ask them for their ID and to chase them and to chase kids and to shoot. It all seems like entertainment, you know? I never heard that discourse until I was in it. Then afterward, when I would meet Israelis who served, even here in the US, the way they joked around about what they did in the West Bank, the way they joked around about killing or stopping people or making them take their clothes off and dance naked, it’s entertainment.

    They think it’s funny. They don’t see that there’s a problem here because racism is so ingrained from such a young age that it’s almost organic. And I don’t think it’s surprising. When you have a racist society, and you have a racist education system that is so methodical, that’s what you get. And the racism doesn’t stop with Palestinians or with Arabs; It goes on to the Black people, it goes on to people of color, it goes to Jews or Israelis who come from other countries who are dark-skinned, for some reason. The racism crosses all these boundaries and it’s completely part of the culture.

    Chris Hedges: You have very little criticism of the IDF, almost none within the Israeli press, although there is quite a bit of criticism right now, of Netanyahu and his mismanagement and his corruption. Talk a little bit about the deification of the IDF within the public discourse and mainstream media and what that means for what’s happening in Gaza.

    Miko Peled: Well, the military is above the law. It’s above reproach, except from time to time. So after the ’73 war, there was an investigation. Earlier this week, there was, in the cabinet meeting… The cabinet meets every Sunday. And the army chief of staff was there and he was… This was leaked from the cabinet meeting. It was leaked that some of the more right-wing partners – It’s funny to say right-wing partners because they’re all this right-wing lunacy in the Israeli cabinet – But the more right-wing settlers that are in the cabinet were attacking the army, were attacking the chief of staff because he decided to start an inquiry because it was catastrophic when the Palestinian fighters came in from Gaza, there was nobody home. They took over half of their country back. They took 22 Israeli settlements and cities.

    They took over the army base of the Gaza brigade, which is supposed to defend the country from exactly this happening. And there was nobody in the… They took over the base. So he initiated an internal inquiry within the army, and they’re criticizing him and what you see in the Israeli press is two very interesting things: One is something went horribly wrong and we need to find out why, but we should wait because we shouldn’t do it during wartime. We shouldn’t criticize the army during wartime. We shouldn’t make the soldiers feel like they have to hold back because if they need to shoot, they should be allowed to shoot. And the other thing we see is that politically, everybody is eating each other up. They’re killing each other politically in the press. So everybody that’s against Netanyahu and wants to see it is attacking him.

    His people are attacking the others for attacking the government. It seems like there’s this paralysis as a result of this infighting that is affecting the functionality of the state as a state. Israelis are not living in the country, Israel is not the state that it was prior to October 7, it was paralyzed for several weeks, and now it’s still paralyzed in many ways. You’ve got missiles coming from the north, you’ve got missiles coming from the south. You’ve got very large numbers of Israeli soldiers being killed and thousands being injured and the war’s not ending. They’re not able to defeat the Palestinians in Gaza, the armed resistance, and so on.

    So all of this is taking place and you read the Israeli press and it’s like this cesspool that’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, and everybody’s attacking everybody else. And the army, it’s true, they are above reproach mostly, but this particular time the settlers are very angry. Another reason is because the the military decided to pull back some of the ground troops, understandably, since they’re being hit so hard. And I remember that happening before when the army pulled back out of Gaza, they were being attacked for stopping the killing, for not continuing these mass killings of Palestinians.

    Chris Hedges: Well, you had what? 70 fatalities in the Golani Brigade? And they were pulled back. This is a very elite unit.

    Miko Peled: Yeah, it’s very interesting because many of the casualties are high-ranking officers. You have colonels, lieutenant colonels, and very high-ranking commanders within Israeli special forces who are being killed. And they’re usually killed in big bunches because they’ll be in an armored personnel carrier or they’ll be marching together. And in Jenin a few days ago, they blew up a military vehicle and killed a bunch of soldiers. So Israelis are scratching their heads, not knowing what the hell is going on and what to do, because number one, they were not protected as they thought they were.

    And I’m sure you know this, the Israeli settlements, the kibbutzim, the cities in the south that border Gaza, [inaudible 00:25:59], they enjoy some of the highest standards of living among Israelis. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s warm, it’s lovely. Agriculture is… And I don’t think it ever occurred to them that Palestinians would dare to come out of Gaza fighting and succeeding the way they did. The army was bankrupt. It was gone, the intelligence apparatus was bankrupt, and nothing worked. And it is reminiscent of what happened in 1973. This is far worse but it is reminiscent. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the October 7 attacks were exactly 50 years and one day after the 1973 October war began and the whole system collapsed. So that’s what we’re seeing right now.

    Chris Hedges: How do you read what’s happening in Gaza, militarily?

    Miko Peled: The Palestinians are able to hold on and kill many Israelis. And even though the Israelis have the firepower and they’ve got the logistics, supply chains are not a problem. Whereas Palestinians, I don’t know where they’re getting supplies. I don’t know where they’re getting food to continue fighting. They’re putting up a fierce resistance. I don’t think that militarily there’s a strategy here. This is revenge; Israel was humiliated, the army was humiliated, and they needed to take it out on somebody.

    So they found the weakest victims they could lay their hands on, and these are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And so they’re killing them by the tens of thousands. I don’t think anybody believes in such a thing as getting rid of Hamas. I don’t think anybody believes that that’s possible. I don’t believe anybody takes seriously or believes that you can take too many people out of Gaza and spread them around the world and into other places, even though that’s what they’re saying. But as long as Israel is allowed to kill, and as long as the supply chain isn’t interrupted, they’re going to continue to kill.

    Chris Hedges: And they’re also creating a humanitarian crisis. So it’s not just the bombs and the shells, but it’s now starvation. Diarrhea is an epidemic, sanitation is broken. I’m wondering at what point this humanitarian crisis becomes so pronounced that the choice is you leave or you die.

    Miko Peled: That’s always the big question for Palestinians. And the sad thing is that Palestinians are always being placed in these situations where they have to make that choice. It’s the worst form of injustice. And you know this, you’ve been in war zones. We don’t know how many bodies are buried under the rubble and what that’s going to bring up. And there are hundreds of thousands now who are suffering from all kinds of diseases as a result of this environmental catastrophe. And you remember, what was it? 2016 or something, 2017? The UN came out with a report that by 2020, Gaza would be uninhabitable. I don’t think the Gaza Strip has ever been inhabitable. It’s been a humanitarian disaster since it was created in the late forties and early fifties because they suddenly threw all these refugees there with no infrastructure and that was it, and then began killing them.

    I was talking to some people the other day, as Americans, as taxpayers, wouldn’t we want the Sixth Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, the US Navy Sixth Fleet, to aid the Palestinians? To provide them support? To create a no-fly zone over these innocent people that are being massacred? As Americans, shouldn’t that be the natural ask, the natural desire to demand our politicians to use? Because American naval vessels have been used for humanitarian causes before. Why aren’t they supporting the Palestinians? Why aren’t they providing them aid? Why aren’t they helping them rebuild? Why are American tax dollars going to continue this genocide rather than stop it and aid the victims?

    These are questions Americans need to ask themselves because it makes absolutely no sense. It is absolute madness that people are allowing their government to support a genocide that’s not even done in secret. It’s not even done in hiding it. It’s on prime time. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows what’s going on. And again, for some strange reason, Americans are allowing their military and their government to aid the genocide. And there’s no question that it’s genocide. The definition of the crime of genocide is so absolutely clear, that anybody can look it up and compare it to what’s been going on in Palestine. So that to me is the greatest question: Why aren’t Americans demanding that the US support the Palestinians?

    Chris Hedges: Well, according to opinion polls, most Americans want a ceasefire. But the Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. Biden is one of the largest recipients of aid or campaign financing from the Israel lobby. This is true for both parties. Chuck Schumer was at the rally saying no ceasefire.

    Miko Peled: Which is odd. A ceasefire is a very small ask and I don’t know why we always ask for the bare minimum for Palestinians. But let’s talk about ceasefire. Israeli soldiers are being killed as well in very large numbers. How has ceasefire suddenly become an anti-Israeli demand? But it’s a very small ask. I don’t know how it was or where it was that this idea of demanding a ceasefire came up because that is not a serious demand. Ceasefire gets violated by Israel anyway, within 24-48 hours. You know that historically Israel always violated ceasefires. What is required here are severe sanctions, a no-fly zone, immediate aid to the Palestinians, and stopping this and providing guarantees for the safety and security of Palestinians forever moving forward so this can never happen again.

    That’s what needs to be asked. At this point, after having sacrificed so much, after having shown much of what I believe is immense courage, Palestinians deserve everything. We as people of conscience need to demand not to ceasefire, we need to demand a dismantling of the apartheid state and a full stop and absolute end to the genocide and guarantees put in place that Palestinian kids will be safe. I was talking to Issa Amro earlier in Hebron. It’s ridiculous when nobody even talks about what happens in the West Bank. Friends of mine who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, nobody dares to leave the house, nobody dares to text. They’re afraid to walk down the streets. Their safety is not guaranteed by anyone.

    Palestinian safety and security are left to the whims of any Israeli, and that should be the conversation right now, after such horrendous violence. That needs to be the demand. That needs to be the ask when we go to protests when we make these demands like a ceasefire. And even that, Israel is not willing. And these bouts of political supporters of Israel here in America are not willing to entertain a ceasefire. I believe it’s a crazy part of history that we’re experiencing right now and it’s a watershed moment. October 7 created an opportunity to end this for good, to end the suffering of Palestinians, the oppression, and the genocide for good. And if we being people of conscience don’t take advantage of this now and bring it to an end, we will regret this for generations.

    Chris Hedges: The Netanyahu government is talking about this assault on Gaza, this genocide continuing for months. There are strikes, and have been strikes against, now Hezbollah leaders. What concerns you? How could this all go terribly wrong?

    Miko Peled: It’s already gone terribly wrong because of the death and destruction of so many innocent lives is… I don’t even know that there’s a word for it. It’s beyond horrifying. Netanyahu is relying on the restraint of Hezbollah and the restraint of Iran and the restraint of the Arab governments has all been neutralized either through destruct, being destroyed, or through normalization. So he’s relying on that and he knows that he can keep triggering, he can keep bombing Lebanon, bombing Syria, instigating all of these things and it won’t turn into an all-out war. Because at the end of the day, even though Lebanese, Hezbollah, and Palestinian fighters have shown that they’re superior as fighters, they don’t have the supply chains, they don’t have the warplanes, they don’t have the tanks. So more and more civilians are going to be hurt.

    So I don’t think it’s going to turn into a regional war by any stretch of the imagination. And so Netanyahu is betting on that, and that’s why he’s allowing this to go on. And for him, this is a win-win. There’s no way that he can be unseated by anybody that’s around him. There’s no opposition. And as long as this goes on, as long as everybody’s in a state of crisis, he can continue to sit in the Prime Minister’s seat, which for him is the end all and be all of everything. And the world is supporting. The world, as governments of the world, I should say.

    I do interviews with African TV stations, Indian TV stations, and Europeans; Everybody is supporting Israel. Everybody listens to what I have to say, and they think I am a lunatic for supporting terrorism or whatever it is they, however, it is that they frame it. But I don’t see this ending unless there is massive pressure by people of conscience on their governments to force change, to force sanctions, to force the end of the genocide, and the end of the apartheid state.

    Chris Hedges: I want to talk about the shift within Zionism itself from the dominance of a secular leadership to – We see it in the government of Netanyahu – The rise of a religious Zionism, which is also true now within the IDF. And I wondered if you could talk about the consequences of that.

    Miko Peled: Sure. So originally, traditionally, and historically, Zionism and Judaism were at odds. And even to this day ultra-orthodox Jews reject Zionism and reject Israel by and large. But after 1967, there was this new creation of the Zionist religious movement. And these are the settlers who went to the West Bank and they became the new pioneers. And they are today, they make up a large portion of the officers and those who joined the special forces and so on. In the past, in the army, the unofficial policy was that these guys, should not be allowed to advance. The current chief of staff comes from that world, which is a huge change. There are several generals and high-ranking commanders and so on who come from that world. The reason that it was the unofficial policy that these guys should not be promoted was that it’s an incredibly toxic combination, this messianic form of Judaism, which is an aberration.

    It’s not Judaism at all, with this nationalist fanaticism. This combination is toxic and look what it created. It created some of the worst racists, some of the most violent thugs that we’ve seen, certainly in the short history of the state of Israel, although I don’t know that they’re any less violent than the generation of Zionists of my father who are secular. This was a big concern in the past but now they’re everywhere and look at its current government. They hold the finance ministry, they hold the national security ministry, certainly in the military they’re everywhere, they hold many sub-cabinets, and they’re heads of committees in the Knesset, and so on. And they’ve done their work. They worked very hard to get to where they are today, which is where they call the shots. And Netanyahu’s guaranteed to remain in power.

    They’re his support group. That’s why you could have had, as we had earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting in the streets and it didn’t affect him because he has his block in the Knesset that will never leave him as long as he allows them to play their game. And this is what’s happening. So in terms of violence and the facts on the ground, I don’t think these guys are any worse again than my parents’ generation who were young Zionists and zealots at the time and committed the 1948 Nakba and ran the country and operated the apartheid state for the first few decades. But it’s a new form of fanaticism being that it is religious as well as fascist. So it’s very toxic. And they have more of a stomach for killing civilians than we’ve ever seen before, even for Israelis. These numbers are beyond belief, even for Israel.

    Chris Hedges: I’m wondering if this religious Zionism probably has its profoundest effect within Israel, in terms of shutting down dissidents, civil liberties, this kind of stuff.

    Miko Peled: Well, Israelis love them. Israelis love these guys because they’re religious but they dress like us. They don’t look like the old Jews with the big beards and everything; They’re cool. They wear jeans. And the reason I say this is because one of their objectives is to take over Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish temple. They’re destroying Al-Aqsa and they conduct these tours. In the old city of Jerusalem, there’s a particular path that you take from where the western wall is up to Al-Aqsa, which is open for non-Muslims. And so they hold tours and there’s several odd times throughout the day. I’ve taken some of these tours to see what it’s about, what these guys do, you know?

    These are prayer tours and hundreds of thousands of Israelis go on these tours. And these are Israelis who are not religious at all, these are secular people. I see the people that go on the tours. To give you an idea of what this is about, you go up on that bridge and then you wait until the tour starts because you have to go in a group. And there’s a massive model of the new temple, of the Jewish temple that is going to be built there. And then you have a huge group of armed police –They’re not soldiers, they’re police but dressed completely militarized. And Muslim Palestinians are not allowed – That accompany the tour all around and they stop and they pray and they stop and they pray and they stop and pray at various places. The whole thing takes maybe an hour. But the interesting thing is that the people who go on these tours are secular Israelis. And then as I was doing this, I was remembering, even as a kid growing up completely secular, we would sing songs about the day that we build a temple.

    Why did we sing songs about building a temple? Because it went beyond our religious significance and became a national significance. And there’s no question in my mind that Netanyahu and secular Israelis would love to see this idea of destroying Al-Aqsa and having a Jewish temple there. It’s a sign that we’re back, King David is back. Even though it has nothing to do with history and there’s no truth in it, the connection that we are descendants of King David is something Israelis love. That’s what this is about, the relationship between the so-called settlers. That’s what they’re called in Israeli jargon. They’re called the settlers. Regular secular Israelis are an interesting one because on the one hand, they’re looked down upon because they’re religious, but on the other hand, they’re a cool religious. So there is an affinity.

    Chris Hedges: Great. That was Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granandino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com.

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    https://therealnews.com/the-idfs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-israeli-society

    https://telegra.ph/The-IDFs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-Israeli-society-04-02
    The IDF’s war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave. Three months into Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the atrocities the IDF has committed against Palestinians are too numerous to name. Israel is staging a prolonged assault on the Palestinian people’s very means of existence—destroying homes, hospitals, sanitation infrastructure, food and water sources, schools, and more. To understand the genocidal campaign unfolding before our eyes, we must examine the roots of Israeli society. Israel is a settler colonial state whose existence depends on the elimination of Palestinians. Accordingly, Israel is a deeply militarized society whose citizens are raised in an environment of historical revisionism and indoctrination that whitewashes Israel’s crimes while cultivating a deep-seated racism against Palestinians. Miko Peled, former IDF Special Forces and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, joins The Chris Hedges Report for a frank conversation on the distortions of history and reality at the foundations of Israeli identity. Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino Post-Production: Adam Coley Transcript Chris Hedges: The Israeli army, known as the Israel Defense Force or IDF, is integral to understanding Israeli society. Nearly all Israelis do three years of military service, most continue to serve in the reserves until middle age. Its generals often retire to occupy senior positions in government and industry. The dominance of the military in Israeli society helps explain why war, militaristic nationalism, and violence are so deeply embedded in Zionist ideology. Israel is the outgrowth of a militarized settler colonial movement that seeks its legitimacy in biblical myth. It has always sought to solve nearly every conflict; The ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians known as the Nakba or catastrophe in the years between 1947 and 1949, the Suez War of 1956, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Arab neighbors, the two invasions of Lebanon, the Palestinian intifadas, and the series of military strikes on Gaza, including the most recent, with violence. The long campaign to occupy Palestinian land and ethnically cleanse Palestinians is rooted in the Zionist paramilitaries that formed the Israeli state and continue within the IDF. The overriding goal of settler colonialism is the total conquest of Palestinian land. The few Israeli leaders who have sought to reign in the military, such as Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, have been pushed aside by the generals. The military setbacks suffered by Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, and during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon only fuel the extreme nationalists who have abandoned all pretense of a liberal democracy. They speak in the open language of apartheid and genocide. These extremists were behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s failure to live up to the Oslo Accords. This extremism has now been exacerbated by the attack of October 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis. The few Israelis who oppose this militaristic nationalism, especially after October 7, have been silenced and persecuted in Israel. Genocidal violence is almost exclusively the language Israeli leaders, and now Israeli citizens, use to speak to the Palestinians and the Arab world. Joining me to discuss the role of the military in Israeli society is Miko Peled. Miko’s father was a general in the Israeli army. Miko was a member of Israel’s special forces and, although disillusioned with the military, moved from his role as a combatant to that of a medic. After the 1982 war in Lebanon, he buried his service pin. He is the author of, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. You grew up, you were a child when your father was a general in the IDF. This inculcation of that military ethos has begun very young and begun in the schools. Can you talk about that? Miko Peled: Sure, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s good to be with you again and talk to you. So it begins before the military. It begins in preschool. It begins as soon as kids are able to talk and walk. I always say I knew the order of the ranks in the military before I knew my alphabet and this is true for many Israeli kids. The Israeli education system is such that it leads young Israelis to become soldiers, to serve the apartheid state, and to serve in this genocidal state, which is the state of Israel. It’s an enormous part of that. And with me, it came with mega-doses of that because when your father’s a general, and particularly of that generation of the 1967 generals, they were like gods of Olympus. Everybody knew their names. On Independence Day, I remember in the schools you would have little flags, not just flags of Israel, but flags of the IDF with pictures of IDF generals, pictures of the military, all kinds of military symbols, and so on. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid they still had a military parade. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable. And you hear it when you walk down the street, you hear it in the news, you hear it in conversations, you hear it in schools, you read it in the textbooks, and there’s no place to develop dissent. There’s no place to develop a sense that dissent is okay, that dissent is possible. And the few cases where people do become dissenters, it’s either because their families have a tradition of being communist or more progressive and somehow it’s part of their tradition but this is a minority of a minority. By and large, Israel stands with the army, and Israel is the army. You can’t separate Israel from its army, from its military. Chris Hedges: Let’s juxtapose the myth that you were taught in school about the IDF with the reality. Miko Peled: The myth that I was… Again, this was given to me in larger doses at home because my father and his comrades were all part of the 1948 mythology. We were small and we were resourceful, and we were clever, and therefore, in 1948, we were able to defeat these Arab armies and these Arab killers who came to try to kill us and so on and destroy our fledgling little Jewish state. And because of our heroism – And you talked about the biblical connection – Because we are the descendants of King David, and we are the descendants of the Maccabees, and we have this resourcefulness and strength in our genes, we were able to create a state and then every time they attacked, we were there. We were able to defend ourselves and prevail and so on. It’s everywhere. Then again, in my case, it’s every time the larger, more extended family got together or my parents got together with their friends. And in many cases, the fathers were also comrades in arms. The stories of the battles, the stories of the conquests; Every city in Israel has an IDF plaza. Street names after different units of different generals are all over the country, street names of battles, so it’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I was probably 40 or a little less than 40, that it was the first time that I encountered the other narrative, the Palestinian story, and it was unbelievable. Somebody was telling me the day is night and night is day, or the world is flat, or whatever the comparison you want to make, it was incredible. They are telling me that what I know to be true – ‘Cause I heard it in school and I read it in books and I heard it from my father and my mother and friends – That all of this is not true. And what you find out if you go along the path that I chose to take, this journey of an Israeli to Palestine, is that it was one horrifying crime against humanity. That’s what this so-called heroism was, it was no heroism at all. It was a well-trained, highly motivated, well-indoctrinated, well-armed militia that then became the IDF. But when it started, it was still a militia or today they would be called a terrorist organization, that went up against the people who had never had a military force, who never had a tank, who never had a warplane, who never prepared, even remotely, for battle or an assault. Then you have to make a choice: How do you bridge this? The differences are not nuanced, the differences are enormous. The choice that I made is to investigate for myself and find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. And my side was not telling the truth. Chris Hedges: How did they explain incidents such as the Nakba, the massacres that took place in ’48 and ’56, and the massive ethnic cleansing that took place in ’67? How was that explained to you within that mythic narrative? Many of the activities that the IDF has had to carry out are quite brutal, quite savage. The indiscriminate killing of civilians – We can talk about Gaza in a minute – What did that do to society? The people who carried out those killings, and eventually huge prisons, torture, and everything else? But let’s begin with how the myth coped with those incidents and then talk about the trauma that is carried within Israeli society for carrying out those war crimes. Miko Peled: My generation, we knew that there were several instances of bad apples that committed terrible crimes. And we admitted, so there was Deir Yassin, which was a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a peaceful village where a horrible massacre took place. Then we knew that Ariel Sharon was a bit of a lunatic and he took the commandos that he commanded in the ’50s and went to the West Bank and went into Gaza and committed acts of terrible massacres. He was still a hero, held in high regard by everyone, but we knew that there were certain instances… And every military, every nation makes its mistakes and then these things happen But there was never any sense that this somehow discounted or hurt the image of us being a moral army. There are lots of stories of how soldiers went and they decided to, out of the kindness of their hearts, they didn’t harm civilians. And those same civilians went and then warned the enemy that they were coming. And these same good Israeli soldiers would then pay the price and were killed. So it’s presented as limited cases. Nakba was not something that was ever discussed. I’m sure it’s not discussed today, certainly not in schools. In Israeli schools today, you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba. There’s a directive by the Ministry of Education that even Palestinians are not allowed to mention the Nakba. But nobody ever talked about that. And the Arabs left, what are you going to do? There was a war and all these people left and this is the way it is. So none of that ever hurt, in any way, the image of us being this glorious heroic army, descendants of King David, and other great traditions of Jewish heroism. None of that ever hurt itself. So there’s no trauma because we did nothing wrong. If somebody did something wrong, well, it was a case of bad apples, it was limited to a particular circumstance, a particular person, a particular unit, and you get crazy people everywhere. What are you going to do? It’s never been presented as systemic. Today, we have a history so we can look back and if we do pay attention, and if we do read the literature, and if we do listen to Palestinians – And today there’s this great NGO called Zochrot, whose mission is to maintain the memory of the towns and cities that were destroyed in 1948 and to revive the stories of what took place in 1948 – They are uncovering new massacres all the time. Because as that generation is dying off, both the Israelis who committed the crimes and the Palestinians who were still alive at the time and survived, are opening up and telling more and more stories. So we know of churches that were filled with civilians and were burned down. We know of a mosque in Lydd that was filled with people and a young man went and shot a Fiat missile into it. All of these horrific stories are still coming out but Israelis are not paying attention, Israelis are not listening. Whenever there’s an attack on Gaza – And as you know very well, these attacks began in the fifties with Ariel Sharon, by the way – There is always a reason. Because at first they were infiltrators, and then they were terrorists, and now they’re called Hamas, and whatever the devil’s name may be there’s always a very good reason to go in there because these are people who are raised to hate and kill and so on. So it’s a tightly-knit and tightly-orchestrated narrative that is being perpetuated and Israelis don’t seem to have a problem with that. Chris Hedges: And yet carrying out acts of brutality. The occupation – Huge numbers, a million Israelis are in the states. Large numbers of Israelis have left the country. I’m wondering how many of those are people who have a conscience and are repulsed by what they have seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps I’m incorrect about that. Miko Peled: I don’t know. In the few encounters that I’ve had with Israelis in the US over the years, the vast majority support Israel, support Israel’s actions. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I got an email from someone representing a group of alumni of Jewish Day Schools. These are Zionist schools all over countries where they indoctrinate the worst Zionism: secular Zionism. And they are now appalled by the indoctrination to serve in the IDF. A very high percentage of these students grew up, went to Israel, joined the IDF, took part in APEC events, and so on. And now they’re looking back and they’re reflecting and they’re feeling a sense of anger that they were put through this and lied through their entire lives about this. So that’s an interesting development. And if that grows, then that might be a game changer because these are the most loyal American Jews. The most loyal to Israel. But by and large, Israelis that I meet, with few exceptions, support Israel and they’re here for whatever reasons people come to America: They’re not unique, they’re not necessarily here because they were fed up or they were angry, or they were dissenters in any way, shape, or form. Around DC and Maryland, there are many Israelis. Sometimes you’ll sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere, you hear the conversations, and there’s no lack of support for Israel among these Israelis as far as I can see. Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the armies. You were in the Special Forces elite unit. Talk about that indoctrination. I remember visiting Auschwitz a few years ago, and there were Israeli groups and people flying Israeli flags. But speak about that form of indoctrination and its link, in particular, to the Holocaust. Miko Peled: The myth is that Israel is a response to the Holocaust. And that the IDF is a response to the Holocaust; We must be strong, we must be willing to fight, and we must always have a gun in one hand or a weapon in one hand so that this will never happen again. And what’s interesting is, when you talk to Holocaust survivors who are not indoctrinated, who did not get pulled into Zionism – Which there are very, very many – They’ll say the notion that a militarized state is somehow the answer to the Holocaust is absurd because the answer to the Holocaust is tolerance and education and humanity, not violence and racism. But nobody wants to ruin a good myth with the facts. So that’s the story. The story is because of Auschwitz, we represent all those that were killed, perished by the Nazis, and so on, and therefore we need to be strong. And the Israeli flag represents them, and the Israeli military represents them. It’s absurd, it’s absolute madness. I went to serve in the army willingly, as most young Israelis do. In my environment, refusing or not going was not heard of, although there were some voices in the wilderness that were refusing and questioning morality. But I never did. Nobody around me ever did until I began the training and you began patrolling. I remember – You and I may have talked about this once – We were an infantry unit, a commando infantry unit. And suddenly we were given batons and these plastic handcuffs and were told to patrol in Ramallah. And I’m going, what the hell’s going on? What are we doing here? And then we’re told if anybody looks at you funny, you break every bone in their body. And I thought, everybody’s going to look at us, we’re commandos while marching through a city. Who’s not going to look at us? I was behind. I didn’t realize that everybody already understood that this is how it is, this is how it’s supposed to be. I thought, wait, this is wrong. Why are we doing this? We’re supposed to be the good guys here. And then there was the Lebanon invasion of ’82 and so on. So that broke that in my mind, that was a serious crack in the wall of belief and the wall of patriotism that was in me. But this whole notion that somehow being violent and militaristic and racist and being conquerors is somehow a response to the horrors of the Holocaust is absolute madness. But when you’re in it nobody around you is asking questions. You don’t ask questions either unless you’re willing to stand out and be smacked on the head. Chris Hedges: Within the military, within the IDF, how did they speak about Palestinians and Arabs? Miko Peled: The discourse, the hatred, the racism, is horrifying. First of all, they’re the animals. They’re nothing. It’s a joke, you see, it’s horrifying. They think it’s funny to stop people and ask them for their ID and to chase them and to chase kids and to shoot. It all seems like entertainment, you know? I never heard that discourse until I was in it. Then afterward, when I would meet Israelis who served, even here in the US, the way they joked around about what they did in the West Bank, the way they joked around about killing or stopping people or making them take their clothes off and dance naked, it’s entertainment. They think it’s funny. They don’t see that there’s a problem here because racism is so ingrained from such a young age that it’s almost organic. And I don’t think it’s surprising. When you have a racist society, and you have a racist education system that is so methodical, that’s what you get. And the racism doesn’t stop with Palestinians or with Arabs; It goes on to the Black people, it goes on to people of color, it goes to Jews or Israelis who come from other countries who are dark-skinned, for some reason. The racism crosses all these boundaries and it’s completely part of the culture. Chris Hedges: You have very little criticism of the IDF, almost none within the Israeli press, although there is quite a bit of criticism right now, of Netanyahu and his mismanagement and his corruption. Talk a little bit about the deification of the IDF within the public discourse and mainstream media and what that means for what’s happening in Gaza. Miko Peled: Well, the military is above the law. It’s above reproach, except from time to time. So after the ’73 war, there was an investigation. Earlier this week, there was, in the cabinet meeting… The cabinet meets every Sunday. And the army chief of staff was there and he was… This was leaked from the cabinet meeting. It was leaked that some of the more right-wing partners – It’s funny to say right-wing partners because they’re all this right-wing lunacy in the Israeli cabinet – But the more right-wing settlers that are in the cabinet were attacking the army, were attacking the chief of staff because he decided to start an inquiry because it was catastrophic when the Palestinian fighters came in from Gaza, there was nobody home. They took over half of their country back. They took 22 Israeli settlements and cities. They took over the army base of the Gaza brigade, which is supposed to defend the country from exactly this happening. And there was nobody in the… They took over the base. So he initiated an internal inquiry within the army, and they’re criticizing him and what you see in the Israeli press is two very interesting things: One is something went horribly wrong and we need to find out why, but we should wait because we shouldn’t do it during wartime. We shouldn’t criticize the army during wartime. We shouldn’t make the soldiers feel like they have to hold back because if they need to shoot, they should be allowed to shoot. And the other thing we see is that politically, everybody is eating each other up. They’re killing each other politically in the press. So everybody that’s against Netanyahu and wants to see it is attacking him. His people are attacking the others for attacking the government. It seems like there’s this paralysis as a result of this infighting that is affecting the functionality of the state as a state. Israelis are not living in the country, Israel is not the state that it was prior to October 7, it was paralyzed for several weeks, and now it’s still paralyzed in many ways. You’ve got missiles coming from the north, you’ve got missiles coming from the south. You’ve got very large numbers of Israeli soldiers being killed and thousands being injured and the war’s not ending. They’re not able to defeat the Palestinians in Gaza, the armed resistance, and so on. So all of this is taking place and you read the Israeli press and it’s like this cesspool that’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, and everybody’s attacking everybody else. And the army, it’s true, they are above reproach mostly, but this particular time the settlers are very angry. Another reason is because the the military decided to pull back some of the ground troops, understandably, since they’re being hit so hard. And I remember that happening before when the army pulled back out of Gaza, they were being attacked for stopping the killing, for not continuing these mass killings of Palestinians. Chris Hedges: Well, you had what? 70 fatalities in the Golani Brigade? And they were pulled back. This is a very elite unit. Miko Peled: Yeah, it’s very interesting because many of the casualties are high-ranking officers. You have colonels, lieutenant colonels, and very high-ranking commanders within Israeli special forces who are being killed. And they’re usually killed in big bunches because they’ll be in an armored personnel carrier or they’ll be marching together. And in Jenin a few days ago, they blew up a military vehicle and killed a bunch of soldiers. So Israelis are scratching their heads, not knowing what the hell is going on and what to do, because number one, they were not protected as they thought they were. And I’m sure you know this, the Israeli settlements, the kibbutzim, the cities in the south that border Gaza, [inaudible 00:25:59], they enjoy some of the highest standards of living among Israelis. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s warm, it’s lovely. Agriculture is… And I don’t think it ever occurred to them that Palestinians would dare to come out of Gaza fighting and succeeding the way they did. The army was bankrupt. It was gone, the intelligence apparatus was bankrupt, and nothing worked. And it is reminiscent of what happened in 1973. This is far worse but it is reminiscent. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the October 7 attacks were exactly 50 years and one day after the 1973 October war began and the whole system collapsed. So that’s what we’re seeing right now. Chris Hedges: How do you read what’s happening in Gaza, militarily? Miko Peled: The Palestinians are able to hold on and kill many Israelis. And even though the Israelis have the firepower and they’ve got the logistics, supply chains are not a problem. Whereas Palestinians, I don’t know where they’re getting supplies. I don’t know where they’re getting food to continue fighting. They’re putting up a fierce resistance. I don’t think that militarily there’s a strategy here. This is revenge; Israel was humiliated, the army was humiliated, and they needed to take it out on somebody. So they found the weakest victims they could lay their hands on, and these are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And so they’re killing them by the tens of thousands. I don’t think anybody believes in such a thing as getting rid of Hamas. I don’t think anybody believes that that’s possible. I don’t believe anybody takes seriously or believes that you can take too many people out of Gaza and spread them around the world and into other places, even though that’s what they’re saying. But as long as Israel is allowed to kill, and as long as the supply chain isn’t interrupted, they’re going to continue to kill. Chris Hedges: And they’re also creating a humanitarian crisis. So it’s not just the bombs and the shells, but it’s now starvation. Diarrhea is an epidemic, sanitation is broken. I’m wondering at what point this humanitarian crisis becomes so pronounced that the choice is you leave or you die. Miko Peled: That’s always the big question for Palestinians. And the sad thing is that Palestinians are always being placed in these situations where they have to make that choice. It’s the worst form of injustice. And you know this, you’ve been in war zones. We don’t know how many bodies are buried under the rubble and what that’s going to bring up. And there are hundreds of thousands now who are suffering from all kinds of diseases as a result of this environmental catastrophe. And you remember, what was it? 2016 or something, 2017? The UN came out with a report that by 2020, Gaza would be uninhabitable. I don’t think the Gaza Strip has ever been inhabitable. It’s been a humanitarian disaster since it was created in the late forties and early fifties because they suddenly threw all these refugees there with no infrastructure and that was it, and then began killing them. I was talking to some people the other day, as Americans, as taxpayers, wouldn’t we want the Sixth Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, the US Navy Sixth Fleet, to aid the Palestinians? To provide them support? To create a no-fly zone over these innocent people that are being massacred? As Americans, shouldn’t that be the natural ask, the natural desire to demand our politicians to use? Because American naval vessels have been used for humanitarian causes before. Why aren’t they supporting the Palestinians? Why aren’t they providing them aid? Why aren’t they helping them rebuild? Why are American tax dollars going to continue this genocide rather than stop it and aid the victims? These are questions Americans need to ask themselves because it makes absolutely no sense. It is absolute madness that people are allowing their government to support a genocide that’s not even done in secret. It’s not even done in hiding it. It’s on prime time. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows what’s going on. And again, for some strange reason, Americans are allowing their military and their government to aid the genocide. And there’s no question that it’s genocide. The definition of the crime of genocide is so absolutely clear, that anybody can look it up and compare it to what’s been going on in Palestine. So that to me is the greatest question: Why aren’t Americans demanding that the US support the Palestinians? Chris Hedges: Well, according to opinion polls, most Americans want a ceasefire. But the Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. Biden is one of the largest recipients of aid or campaign financing from the Israel lobby. This is true for both parties. Chuck Schumer was at the rally saying no ceasefire. Miko Peled: Which is odd. A ceasefire is a very small ask and I don’t know why we always ask for the bare minimum for Palestinians. But let’s talk about ceasefire. Israeli soldiers are being killed as well in very large numbers. How has ceasefire suddenly become an anti-Israeli demand? But it’s a very small ask. I don’t know how it was or where it was that this idea of demanding a ceasefire came up because that is not a serious demand. Ceasefire gets violated by Israel anyway, within 24-48 hours. You know that historically Israel always violated ceasefires. What is required here are severe sanctions, a no-fly zone, immediate aid to the Palestinians, and stopping this and providing guarantees for the safety and security of Palestinians forever moving forward so this can never happen again. That’s what needs to be asked. At this point, after having sacrificed so much, after having shown much of what I believe is immense courage, Palestinians deserve everything. We as people of conscience need to demand not to ceasefire, we need to demand a dismantling of the apartheid state and a full stop and absolute end to the genocide and guarantees put in place that Palestinian kids will be safe. I was talking to Issa Amro earlier in Hebron. It’s ridiculous when nobody even talks about what happens in the West Bank. Friends of mine who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, nobody dares to leave the house, nobody dares to text. They’re afraid to walk down the streets. Their safety is not guaranteed by anyone. Palestinian safety and security are left to the whims of any Israeli, and that should be the conversation right now, after such horrendous violence. That needs to be the demand. That needs to be the ask when we go to protests when we make these demands like a ceasefire. And even that, Israel is not willing. And these bouts of political supporters of Israel here in America are not willing to entertain a ceasefire. I believe it’s a crazy part of history that we’re experiencing right now and it’s a watershed moment. October 7 created an opportunity to end this for good, to end the suffering of Palestinians, the oppression, and the genocide for good. And if we being people of conscience don’t take advantage of this now and bring it to an end, we will regret this for generations. Chris Hedges: The Netanyahu government is talking about this assault on Gaza, this genocide continuing for months. There are strikes, and have been strikes against, now Hezbollah leaders. What concerns you? How could this all go terribly wrong? Miko Peled: It’s already gone terribly wrong because of the death and destruction of so many innocent lives is… I don’t even know that there’s a word for it. It’s beyond horrifying. Netanyahu is relying on the restraint of Hezbollah and the restraint of Iran and the restraint of the Arab governments has all been neutralized either through destruct, being destroyed, or through normalization. So he’s relying on that and he knows that he can keep triggering, he can keep bombing Lebanon, bombing Syria, instigating all of these things and it won’t turn into an all-out war. Because at the end of the day, even though Lebanese, Hezbollah, and Palestinian fighters have shown that they’re superior as fighters, they don’t have the supply chains, they don’t have the warplanes, they don’t have the tanks. So more and more civilians are going to be hurt. So I don’t think it’s going to turn into a regional war by any stretch of the imagination. And so Netanyahu is betting on that, and that’s why he’s allowing this to go on. And for him, this is a win-win. There’s no way that he can be unseated by anybody that’s around him. There’s no opposition. And as long as this goes on, as long as everybody’s in a state of crisis, he can continue to sit in the Prime Minister’s seat, which for him is the end all and be all of everything. And the world is supporting. The world, as governments of the world, I should say. I do interviews with African TV stations, Indian TV stations, and Europeans; Everybody is supporting Israel. Everybody listens to what I have to say, and they think I am a lunatic for supporting terrorism or whatever it is they, however, it is that they frame it. But I don’t see this ending unless there is massive pressure by people of conscience on their governments to force change, to force sanctions, to force the end of the genocide, and the end of the apartheid state. Chris Hedges: I want to talk about the shift within Zionism itself from the dominance of a secular leadership to – We see it in the government of Netanyahu – The rise of a religious Zionism, which is also true now within the IDF. And I wondered if you could talk about the consequences of that. Miko Peled: Sure. So originally, traditionally, and historically, Zionism and Judaism were at odds. And even to this day ultra-orthodox Jews reject Zionism and reject Israel by and large. But after 1967, there was this new creation of the Zionist religious movement. And these are the settlers who went to the West Bank and they became the new pioneers. And they are today, they make up a large portion of the officers and those who joined the special forces and so on. In the past, in the army, the unofficial policy was that these guys, should not be allowed to advance. The current chief of staff comes from that world, which is a huge change. There are several generals and high-ranking commanders and so on who come from that world. The reason that it was the unofficial policy that these guys should not be promoted was that it’s an incredibly toxic combination, this messianic form of Judaism, which is an aberration. It’s not Judaism at all, with this nationalist fanaticism. This combination is toxic and look what it created. It created some of the worst racists, some of the most violent thugs that we’ve seen, certainly in the short history of the state of Israel, although I don’t know that they’re any less violent than the generation of Zionists of my father who are secular. This was a big concern in the past but now they’re everywhere and look at its current government. They hold the finance ministry, they hold the national security ministry, certainly in the military they’re everywhere, they hold many sub-cabinets, and they’re heads of committees in the Knesset, and so on. And they’ve done their work. They worked very hard to get to where they are today, which is where they call the shots. And Netanyahu’s guaranteed to remain in power. They’re his support group. That’s why you could have had, as we had earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting in the streets and it didn’t affect him because he has his block in the Knesset that will never leave him as long as he allows them to play their game. And this is what’s happening. So in terms of violence and the facts on the ground, I don’t think these guys are any worse again than my parents’ generation who were young Zionists and zealots at the time and committed the 1948 Nakba and ran the country and operated the apartheid state for the first few decades. But it’s a new form of fanaticism being that it is religious as well as fascist. So it’s very toxic. And they have more of a stomach for killing civilians than we’ve ever seen before, even for Israelis. These numbers are beyond belief, even for Israel. Chris Hedges: I’m wondering if this religious Zionism probably has its profoundest effect within Israel, in terms of shutting down dissidents, civil liberties, this kind of stuff. Miko Peled: Well, Israelis love them. Israelis love these guys because they’re religious but they dress like us. They don’t look like the old Jews with the big beards and everything; They’re cool. They wear jeans. And the reason I say this is because one of their objectives is to take over Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish temple. They’re destroying Al-Aqsa and they conduct these tours. In the old city of Jerusalem, there’s a particular path that you take from where the western wall is up to Al-Aqsa, which is open for non-Muslims. And so they hold tours and there’s several odd times throughout the day. I’ve taken some of these tours to see what it’s about, what these guys do, you know? These are prayer tours and hundreds of thousands of Israelis go on these tours. And these are Israelis who are not religious at all, these are secular people. I see the people that go on the tours. To give you an idea of what this is about, you go up on that bridge and then you wait until the tour starts because you have to go in a group. And there’s a massive model of the new temple, of the Jewish temple that is going to be built there. And then you have a huge group of armed police –They’re not soldiers, they’re police but dressed completely militarized. And Muslim Palestinians are not allowed – That accompany the tour all around and they stop and they pray and they stop and they pray and they stop and pray at various places. The whole thing takes maybe an hour. But the interesting thing is that the people who go on these tours are secular Israelis. And then as I was doing this, I was remembering, even as a kid growing up completely secular, we would sing songs about the day that we build a temple. Why did we sing songs about building a temple? Because it went beyond our religious significance and became a national significance. And there’s no question in my mind that Netanyahu and secular Israelis would love to see this idea of destroying Al-Aqsa and having a Jewish temple there. It’s a sign that we’re back, King David is back. Even though it has nothing to do with history and there’s no truth in it, the connection that we are descendants of King David is something Israelis love. That’s what this is about, the relationship between the so-called settlers. That’s what they’re called in Israeli jargon. They’re called the settlers. Regular secular Israelis are an interesting one because on the one hand, they’re looked down upon because they’re religious, but on the other hand, they’re a cool religious. So there is an affinity. Chris Hedges: Great. That was Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granandino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com. Creative Commons License Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license. https://therealnews.com/the-idfs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-israeli-society https://telegra.ph/The-IDFs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-Israeli-society-04-02
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    The IDF's war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society
    Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave.
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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 156: Israel deploys 15,000 troops in West Bank as Ramadan starts
    Ceasefire talks falter as Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson says Israel is using “deception and evasion.” Israel deploys thousands of troops in the West Bank and Jerusalem ahead of plans to restrict access to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

    Mustafa Abu SneinehMarch 10, 2024
    Palestinians attempt to collect some personal belongings after returning briefly to check on what remains of their homes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 9, 2024. (Photo: Saeed Jaras/ APA Images)
    Palestinians attempt to collect some personal belongings after returning briefly to check on what remains of their homes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 9, 2024. (Photo: Saeed Jaras/ APA Images)
    Casualties

    31,045+ killed* and at least 72,645 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 25 children in Gaza have died of malnutrition and dehydration since the beginning of March.
    423+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    588 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.***
    *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 40,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** The death toll in West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. This is the latest figure according to PA’s Ministry of Health as of March 6.

    *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

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    Key Developments

    Israel deploys 15,000 soldiers and military police in West Bank and Jerusalem ahead of Ramadan, including 5,000 reservists, 24 battalions, 20 Border Police companies, and two special forces units.
    Hamas’s Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson rules out any breakthrough in ceasefire talks, and describes Israel’s position as “deceptive.”
    Abu Obaida warns that Israel’s campaign of starvation against Palestinians in Gaza is affecting Israeli captives, some of whom “suffer from hunger, malnutrition and dehydration.”
    Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades announces names of four out of seven Israeli captives who died “due to the aggressive Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip.”
    25 Palestinian children have died of malnutrition and dehydration since March. The total death toll in Gaza surpasses 31,000 people, 72 percent of whom are women and children.
    Gaza City municipality says Israel destroyed a one-million-meter square of roads in the Gaza Strip.
    Gaza City municipality needs heavy vehicles and fuel supplies to clean rubble and nearly 70,000 tons of rubbish.
    Rescue teams transfer 37 bodies of Palestinian martyrs and 118 injured people to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah overnight.
    U.S. to send army vessel to Eastern Mediterranean to deliver aid and supplies to Gaza.
    Wafa reports that Israeli bombing of tents of displaced Palestinians killed 15 people in Al-Mawasi area, west of Khan Younis.
    Spain is considering recognizing a Palestinian state by 2027, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
    Ceasefire talks falter as Israel braces for Ramadan

    The meditated talks between Israel and Hamas have faltered after weeks of expectations and efforts to agree on a permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages and prisoners.

    The month of Ramadan is due to start tomorrow, March 11, and Israel is set to restrict access of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank to the Al-Aqsa Mosque while it is bombing the Gaza Strip, starving Palestinians, and shunning calls to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

    Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, and contemplation for millions of Muslims. But it has an extra layer of holiness for Palestinians in the West Bank, who are barred from entering Jerusalem all year round without an Israeli permit. Ramadan, hence, is an opportunity to reconnect with their capital city and pray in the Al-Aqsa.

    Israel’s plan to restrict access to Jerusalem marks an escalation and will likely lead to violence. Knowing this, the Israeli government has already deployed 15,000 soldiers and military police in the West Bank and Jerusalem since Friday. Those include 5,000 reservists, 24 battalions, 20 Border Police companies, and two special forces units.

    Hamas describes Israel’s position in ceasefire talks as “deceptive”

    It remains unclear if a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip can be reached on Sunday at the eleventh hour. Some Israeli officials appear to be optimistic that this could be done.

    According to Ynet, Israel’s external intelligence, the Mossad, involved alongside the CIA with the mediated talks with Hamas, said on Saturday evening that “contacts and cooperation with the mediators [of Qatar and Egypt] continue all the time in an effort to narrow the gaps and reach agreements.”

    For thousands of families in the Gaza Strip, they will spend Ramadan in tents, shelters, or amid the shattered walls and rubble of what is left of their bombed houses and neighborhoods.

    The 2.5 million Palestinians in Gaza are also barred entry by Israel to visit Jerusalem without a permit. Some of them, who were displaced from north Gaza since October, are now blocked from going back to their houses by Israeli forces stationed on Salah El-Din Street, which splits Gaza into north and south.

    The U.S. has exerted pressure on meditators to convince Hamas to agree to a six-week truce, including the month of Ramadan, in which hostages and prisoners would be released, and sufficient aid would be supplied.

    The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Saturday that “the ball is in their court,” referring to Hamas. “We’re working intensely on it and we’ll see what they do.”

    Hamas has been adamant that it will only agree to a permanent truce, which would end Israel’s bombing of Gaza and permit the return of thousands of families to north Gaza.

    During a speech on Friday evening, Abu Obaida, the spokesperson of Hamas’s Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, ruled out any breakthrough in the talks of a ceasefire.

    Abu Obaida said Israel was using “deception and evasion” during the talks, and its position was cloaked with “confusion and inconsistency”. He said that Hamas’s ultimate goal from any truce is “stopping [Israeli] aggression, Gaza’s reconstruction, and the withdrawal of [Israeli] forces” from the Gaza Strip.

    He warned that the campaign of starvation Israel is launching against the people of Gaza is affecting Israeli captives, some of whom “suffer from hunger and deprivation, lack of food and medicine, and suffer malnutrition, dehydration, and emaciation.”

    “The ball is in their court to save whoever of them can be saved,” Abu Obaida said, addressing Israelis and adding that the Israeli government “insists on receiving [the captives] in coffins.”

    Later, Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades announced the names of four out of seven captives who died “due to the aggressive Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip, and we have [previously] disclosed the identities of three of them.”

    Rescue teams transfer 37 bodies to Al-Aqsa Hospital

    In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces committed eight “massacres” in various areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health on Telegram, killing at least 85 people and injuring 130.

    The total death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 31,000 people, 72 percent of whom are women and children. The ministry added that 25 children have died of malnutrition and dehydration since March.

    Assem Nabih, a member of Gaza City’s emergency department, told Al-Jazeera Arabic that since October, Israel has destroyed one-million-meter square of roads in the Gaza Strip.

    The Gaza City municipality needs heavy vehicles and fuel supplies to clean rubble and nearly 70,000 tons of rubbish. Nabih said that insufficient aid is trickling into Gaza, while water in Gaza’s wells is drying out as summer approaches.

    On Sunday morning, Dr. Khalil Al-Daqran, the spokesperson of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah told Al-Jazeera Arabic that rescue teams transferred 37 bodies of Palestinian martyrs and 118 injured people to the hospital overnight.

    “However, we can’t treat all the injured due to the lack of capabilities and medical supplies,” he said, adding that all hospitals close to the Al-Aqsa Hospital are out of service.

    “What we are offering is modest medical care to the injured as there is not enough operation rooms,” Al-Daqran said, calling international organizations to send medical and fuel supplies urgently.

    U.S. sending army vessel to deliver aid to Gaza

    On Saturday evening, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said it is sending an army vessel to the Eastern Mediterranean, following President Biden’s State of the Union address on Friday, in which he pledged to build a floating pier near Gaza’s shore to facilitate the delivery of aid and food.

    “Besson, a logistics support vessel, is carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies,” CENTCOM wrote on the X platform.

    The floating pier would take up to 60 days to be built and was proposed by Biden after the U.S. airdropped aid on north Gaza in the past weeks, an expensive and cumbersome method to deliver aid, which killed five Palestinians as the parachutes malfunctioned last week.

    “There are more efficient and faster ways to get assistance to Gazans: Biden can pressure Israel to allow the entry of hundreds of aid trucks that are needed in the territory each day,” Mohamad Bazzi, the director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, wrote in The Guardian.

    “Instead, Biden and his administration are complicit in prolonging a war in which a U.S. ally has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and is intentionally starving the population into submission,” he added.

    Israeli soldiers cheer killing of Palestinian during home raid

    The Israeli aggression on Gaza has entered six months. There is plenty of footage documenting Israeli brutality and acts of genocide. Lately, head-cam footage was released of Israeli soldiers cheering the killing of a 72-year-old Palestinian civilian with four bullets when they stormed a home in Gaza.

    Al-Jazeera Arabic also released Israeli drone footage showing a Palestinian child lying dead on the ground after being shot by Israeli forces near Al-Fakhura School in Jabalia, in north Gaza, in December.

    On Saturday, an Israeli bombing on a house of the Al-Nuwairi family west of Nuseirat camp in central Gaza killed ten people, Wafa news agency reported.

    Wafa reported that the Israeli bombing killed 15 displaced Palestinians in the Al-Mawasi area, west of Khan Younis. One Palestinian was killed and three injured when Israel bombed a vehicle driving on Salah El-Din Street near the city of Rafah, south of Gaza.

    In Gaza City’s Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, Israeli forces killed five Palestinians who were among people waiting for aid trucks to arrive near the Kuwait roundabout on Saturday. In Beit Lahia, an Israeli air raid on the house of the Abu Nasser family killed and injured several people, Wafa reported.

    Thousands of Palestinian students had attended a makeshift school in Rafah. Since October, students in the Gaza Strip have not attended lessons as their schools have either been bombed by Israel or turned into shelters. Palestinian kids were sitting on the ground in a “classroom” made of groundsheets and without a roof, Wafa reported.

    On Saturday, millions of people protested worldwide in cities of Hannover, Berlin, Paris, Tunis, Copenhagen, Milan, London, Manchester, Sarajevo, Seoul, and Auckland, among others, in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

    Spain to recognize Palestinian state by 2027

    Spain is mulling the recognition of a Palestinian state, however, by the year 2027, according to Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister.

    Sanchez’s mandate ends by 2027. He said on Saturday that he will put the recognition of a Palestinian state to vote by the Spanish parliament’s lower half.

    “We will do it because of moral conviction, because it’s a just cause, but also because it is the only way that two states – Israel and Palestine – can live together and co-exist in peace and security,” Sanchez wrote on X platform.

    Spain has been supportive of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since October, and unlike other European countries who suspended funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Madrid pledged to pay $22m extra to help UNRWA’s aid operations in Gaza.

    In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have arrested 7,505 Palestinians since October. Overnight, 15 Palestinians were detained from Nablus, Tubas, Ramallah, and Hebron, Wafa reported.

    A recent Israeli soldier’s arrest of a 7-year-old girl in Jenin was described as “kidnapping.” In released video footage, Israeli soldiers appear to drag the girl from her home into a military jeep as she resisted and pushed her into the vehicle.

    “Israeli army stormed Jenin city, in the West Bank, yesterday and kidnapped a 7 years old girl from her family’s house!” the Palestinian embassy in Romania wrote on X platform on Sunday.

    “This is not a first, they have long history of kidnapping and arresting Palestinian kids,” it added.

    Overnight, Israeli forces stormed Silat Al-Dhahr and Al-Fandqumiya villages, south of Jenin, and confiscated surveillance cameras.

    Wafa reported that Israeli forces raided several houses in the two villages following a shooting and booby trap attack on Israeli soldiers near the illegal settlement of Homesh last week, which injured seven Israeli soldiers.

    BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever.

    Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses.

    Support our journalists with a donation today.


    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-156-israel-deploys-15000-troops-in-west-bank-as-ramadan-starts/

    https://telegra.ph/Operation-Al-Aqsa-Flood-Day-156-Israel-deploys-15000-troops-in-West-Bank-as-Ramadan-starts-03-11
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 156: Israel deploys 15,000 troops in West Bank as Ramadan starts Ceasefire talks falter as Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson says Israel is using “deception and evasion.” Israel deploys thousands of troops in the West Bank and Jerusalem ahead of plans to restrict access to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. Mustafa Abu SneinehMarch 10, 2024 Palestinians attempt to collect some personal belongings after returning briefly to check on what remains of their homes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 9, 2024. (Photo: Saeed Jaras/ APA Images) Palestinians attempt to collect some personal belongings after returning briefly to check on what remains of their homes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 9, 2024. (Photo: Saeed Jaras/ APA Images) Casualties 31,045+ killed* and at least 72,645 wounded in the Gaza Strip. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 25 children in Gaza have died of malnutrition and dehydration since the beginning of March. 423+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.** Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 588 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.*** *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 40,000 when accounting for those presumed dead. ** The death toll in West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. This is the latest figure according to PA’s Ministry of Health as of March 6. *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” Advertisement Follow the Mondoweiss channel on WhatsApp! Key Developments Israel deploys 15,000 soldiers and military police in West Bank and Jerusalem ahead of Ramadan, including 5,000 reservists, 24 battalions, 20 Border Police companies, and two special forces units. Hamas’s Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson rules out any breakthrough in ceasefire talks, and describes Israel’s position as “deceptive.” Abu Obaida warns that Israel’s campaign of starvation against Palestinians in Gaza is affecting Israeli captives, some of whom “suffer from hunger, malnutrition and dehydration.” Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades announces names of four out of seven Israeli captives who died “due to the aggressive Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip.” 25 Palestinian children have died of malnutrition and dehydration since March. The total death toll in Gaza surpasses 31,000 people, 72 percent of whom are women and children. Gaza City municipality says Israel destroyed a one-million-meter square of roads in the Gaza Strip. Gaza City municipality needs heavy vehicles and fuel supplies to clean rubble and nearly 70,000 tons of rubbish. Rescue teams transfer 37 bodies of Palestinian martyrs and 118 injured people to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah overnight. U.S. to send army vessel to Eastern Mediterranean to deliver aid and supplies to Gaza. Wafa reports that Israeli bombing of tents of displaced Palestinians killed 15 people in Al-Mawasi area, west of Khan Younis. Spain is considering recognizing a Palestinian state by 2027, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Ceasefire talks falter as Israel braces for Ramadan The meditated talks between Israel and Hamas have faltered after weeks of expectations and efforts to agree on a permanent ceasefire and the release of hostages and prisoners. The month of Ramadan is due to start tomorrow, March 11, and Israel is set to restrict access of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank to the Al-Aqsa Mosque while it is bombing the Gaza Strip, starving Palestinians, and shunning calls to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza. Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, and contemplation for millions of Muslims. But it has an extra layer of holiness for Palestinians in the West Bank, who are barred from entering Jerusalem all year round without an Israeli permit. Ramadan, hence, is an opportunity to reconnect with their capital city and pray in the Al-Aqsa. Israel’s plan to restrict access to Jerusalem marks an escalation and will likely lead to violence. Knowing this, the Israeli government has already deployed 15,000 soldiers and military police in the West Bank and Jerusalem since Friday. Those include 5,000 reservists, 24 battalions, 20 Border Police companies, and two special forces units. Hamas describes Israel’s position in ceasefire talks as “deceptive” It remains unclear if a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip can be reached on Sunday at the eleventh hour. Some Israeli officials appear to be optimistic that this could be done. According to Ynet, Israel’s external intelligence, the Mossad, involved alongside the CIA with the mediated talks with Hamas, said on Saturday evening that “contacts and cooperation with the mediators [of Qatar and Egypt] continue all the time in an effort to narrow the gaps and reach agreements.” For thousands of families in the Gaza Strip, they will spend Ramadan in tents, shelters, or amid the shattered walls and rubble of what is left of their bombed houses and neighborhoods. The 2.5 million Palestinians in Gaza are also barred entry by Israel to visit Jerusalem without a permit. Some of them, who were displaced from north Gaza since October, are now blocked from going back to their houses by Israeli forces stationed on Salah El-Din Street, which splits Gaza into north and south. The U.S. has exerted pressure on meditators to convince Hamas to agree to a six-week truce, including the month of Ramadan, in which hostages and prisoners would be released, and sufficient aid would be supplied. The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Saturday that “the ball is in their court,” referring to Hamas. “We’re working intensely on it and we’ll see what they do.” Hamas has been adamant that it will only agree to a permanent truce, which would end Israel’s bombing of Gaza and permit the return of thousands of families to north Gaza. During a speech on Friday evening, Abu Obaida, the spokesperson of Hamas’s Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, ruled out any breakthrough in the talks of a ceasefire. Abu Obaida said Israel was using “deception and evasion” during the talks, and its position was cloaked with “confusion and inconsistency”. He said that Hamas’s ultimate goal from any truce is “stopping [Israeli] aggression, Gaza’s reconstruction, and the withdrawal of [Israeli] forces” from the Gaza Strip. He warned that the campaign of starvation Israel is launching against the people of Gaza is affecting Israeli captives, some of whom “suffer from hunger and deprivation, lack of food and medicine, and suffer malnutrition, dehydration, and emaciation.” “The ball is in their court to save whoever of them can be saved,” Abu Obaida said, addressing Israelis and adding that the Israeli government “insists on receiving [the captives] in coffins.” Later, Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades announced the names of four out of seven captives who died “due to the aggressive Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip, and we have [previously] disclosed the identities of three of them.” Rescue teams transfer 37 bodies to Al-Aqsa Hospital In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces committed eight “massacres” in various areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health on Telegram, killing at least 85 people and injuring 130. The total death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 31,000 people, 72 percent of whom are women and children. The ministry added that 25 children have died of malnutrition and dehydration since March. Assem Nabih, a member of Gaza City’s emergency department, told Al-Jazeera Arabic that since October, Israel has destroyed one-million-meter square of roads in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza City municipality needs heavy vehicles and fuel supplies to clean rubble and nearly 70,000 tons of rubbish. Nabih said that insufficient aid is trickling into Gaza, while water in Gaza’s wells is drying out as summer approaches. On Sunday morning, Dr. Khalil Al-Daqran, the spokesperson of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah told Al-Jazeera Arabic that rescue teams transferred 37 bodies of Palestinian martyrs and 118 injured people to the hospital overnight. “However, we can’t treat all the injured due to the lack of capabilities and medical supplies,” he said, adding that all hospitals close to the Al-Aqsa Hospital are out of service. “What we are offering is modest medical care to the injured as there is not enough operation rooms,” Al-Daqran said, calling international organizations to send medical and fuel supplies urgently. U.S. sending army vessel to deliver aid to Gaza On Saturday evening, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said it is sending an army vessel to the Eastern Mediterranean, following President Biden’s State of the Union address on Friday, in which he pledged to build a floating pier near Gaza’s shore to facilitate the delivery of aid and food. “Besson, a logistics support vessel, is carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies,” CENTCOM wrote on the X platform. The floating pier would take up to 60 days to be built and was proposed by Biden after the U.S. airdropped aid on north Gaza in the past weeks, an expensive and cumbersome method to deliver aid, which killed five Palestinians as the parachutes malfunctioned last week. “There are more efficient and faster ways to get assistance to Gazans: Biden can pressure Israel to allow the entry of hundreds of aid trucks that are needed in the territory each day,” Mohamad Bazzi, the director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, wrote in The Guardian. “Instead, Biden and his administration are complicit in prolonging a war in which a U.S. ally has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and is intentionally starving the population into submission,” he added. Israeli soldiers cheer killing of Palestinian during home raid The Israeli aggression on Gaza has entered six months. There is plenty of footage documenting Israeli brutality and acts of genocide. Lately, head-cam footage was released of Israeli soldiers cheering the killing of a 72-year-old Palestinian civilian with four bullets when they stormed a home in Gaza. Al-Jazeera Arabic also released Israeli drone footage showing a Palestinian child lying dead on the ground after being shot by Israeli forces near Al-Fakhura School in Jabalia, in north Gaza, in December. On Saturday, an Israeli bombing on a house of the Al-Nuwairi family west of Nuseirat camp in central Gaza killed ten people, Wafa news agency reported. Wafa reported that the Israeli bombing killed 15 displaced Palestinians in the Al-Mawasi area, west of Khan Younis. One Palestinian was killed and three injured when Israel bombed a vehicle driving on Salah El-Din Street near the city of Rafah, south of Gaza. In Gaza City’s Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, Israeli forces killed five Palestinians who were among people waiting for aid trucks to arrive near the Kuwait roundabout on Saturday. In Beit Lahia, an Israeli air raid on the house of the Abu Nasser family killed and injured several people, Wafa reported. Thousands of Palestinian students had attended a makeshift school in Rafah. Since October, students in the Gaza Strip have not attended lessons as their schools have either been bombed by Israel or turned into shelters. Palestinian kids were sitting on the ground in a “classroom” made of groundsheets and without a roof, Wafa reported. On Saturday, millions of people protested worldwide in cities of Hannover, Berlin, Paris, Tunis, Copenhagen, Milan, London, Manchester, Sarajevo, Seoul, and Auckland, among others, in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, calling for an immediate ceasefire. Spain to recognize Palestinian state by 2027 Spain is mulling the recognition of a Palestinian state, however, by the year 2027, according to Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister. Sanchez’s mandate ends by 2027. He said on Saturday that he will put the recognition of a Palestinian state to vote by the Spanish parliament’s lower half. “We will do it because of moral conviction, because it’s a just cause, but also because it is the only way that two states – Israel and Palestine – can live together and co-exist in peace and security,” Sanchez wrote on X platform. Spain has been supportive of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since October, and unlike other European countries who suspended funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Madrid pledged to pay $22m extra to help UNRWA’s aid operations in Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have arrested 7,505 Palestinians since October. Overnight, 15 Palestinians were detained from Nablus, Tubas, Ramallah, and Hebron, Wafa reported. A recent Israeli soldier’s arrest of a 7-year-old girl in Jenin was described as “kidnapping.” In released video footage, Israeli soldiers appear to drag the girl from her home into a military jeep as she resisted and pushed her into the vehicle. “Israeli army stormed Jenin city, in the West Bank, yesterday and kidnapped a 7 years old girl from her family’s house!” the Palestinian embassy in Romania wrote on X platform on Sunday. “This is not a first, they have long history of kidnapping and arresting Palestinian kids,” it added. Overnight, Israeli forces stormed Silat Al-Dhahr and Al-Fandqumiya villages, south of Jenin, and confiscated surveillance cameras. Wafa reported that Israeli forces raided several houses in the two villages following a shooting and booby trap attack on Israeli soldiers near the illegal settlement of Homesh last week, which injured seven Israeli soldiers. BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever. Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses. Support our journalists with a donation today. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-156-israel-deploys-15000-troops-in-west-bank-as-ramadan-starts/ https://telegra.ph/Operation-Al-Aqsa-Flood-Day-156-Israel-deploys-15000-troops-in-West-Bank-as-Ramadan-starts-03-11
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    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 156: Israel deploys 15,000 troops in West Bank as Ramadan starts
    Ceasefire talks falter as Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson says Israel is using “deception and evasion.” Israel deploys thousands of troops in the West Bank and Jerusalem ahead of plans to restrict access to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.
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  • Scott Ritter: We are witnessing the bittersweet birth of a new Russia | VT Foreign Policy
    March 10, 2024
    VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel

    $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts
    Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State.

    Tucker Carlson’s confused exasperation over Russian President Vladmir Putin’s extemporaneous history lesson at the start of their landmark February interview (which has been watched more than a billion times), underscored one realty. For a Western audience, the question of the historical bona fides of Russia’s claim of sovereign interest in territories located on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnieper River, currently claimed by Ukraine, is confusing to the point of incomprehension.

    Vladimir Putin, however, did not manufacture his history lesson from thin air. Anyone who has followed the speeches and writings of the Russian president over the years would have found his comments to Carlson quite familiar, echoing both in tone and content previous statements made concerning both the viability of the Ukrainian state from an historic perspective, and the historical ties between what Putin has called Novorossiya (New Russia) and the Russian nation.

    For example, on March 18, 2014, during his announcement regarding the annexation of Crimea, the president observed that “after the [Russian] Revolution [of 1917], for a number of reasons the Bolsheviks – let God judge them – added historical sections of the south of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic composition of the population, and these regions today form the south-east of Ukraine.”

    Later during a televised question-and-answer session, Putin declared that “what was called Novorossiya back in tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet Government. Why? Who knows? They were won by Potemkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.”

    Novorossiya isn’t just a construct of Vladimir Putin’s imagination, but rather a notion drawn from historic fact that resonated with the people who populated the territories it encompassed. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an abortive effort by pro-Russia citizens of the new Ukrainian state to restore Novorossiya as an independent region.

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    While this effort failed, the concept of a greater Novorossiya confederation was revived in May 2014 by the newly proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. But this effort, too, was short-lived, being put on ice in 2015. This, however, did not mean the death of the idea of Novorossiya. On February 21, 2022, Putin delivered a lengthy address to the Russian nation on the eve of his decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine as part of what he termed a Special Military Operation. Those who watched Tucker Carlson’s February 9, 2024, interview with Putin would have been struck by the similarity between the two presentations.

    While he did not make a direct reference to Novorossiya, the president did outline fundamental historic and cultural linkages which serve as the foundation for any discussion about the viability and legitimacy of Novorossiya in the context of Russian-Ukrainian relations.

    “I would like to emphasize,” Putin said, “once again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space. It is our friends, our relatives, not only colleagues, friends, and former work colleagues, but also our relatives and close family members. Since the oldest times,” Putin continued, “the inhabitants of the south-western historical territories of ancient Russia have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. It was the same in the 17th century, when a part of these territories [i.e., Novorossiya] was reunited with the Russian state, and even after that.”

    The Russian president set forth his contention that the modern state of Ukraine was an invention of Vladimir Lenin, the founding father of the Soviet Union. “Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy,” Putin stated, “and can be rightfully called ‘Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine’. He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents.”

    Putin went on to issue a threat which, when seen in the context of the present, proved ominously prescient. “And today the ’grateful progeny’ has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.”

    In September 2022 Putin followed through on this, ordering referendums in four territories (Kherson and Zaporozhye, and the newly independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) to determine whether the populations residing there wished to join the Russian Federation. All four did so. Putin has since then referred to these new Russian territories as Novorossiya, perhaps nowhere more poignantly that in June 2023, when he praised the Russian soldiers “who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya and for the unity of the Russian world.”

    The story of those who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya is one that I have wanted to tell for some time now. I have borne witness here in the United States to the extremely one-sided coverage of the military aspects of Russia’s military operation. Like many of my fellow analysts, I had to undertake the extremely difficult task of trying to parse out fact from an overwhelmingly fictional narrative. Nor was I helped in any way in this regard by the Russian side, which was parsimonious in the release of information that reflected its side of reality.

    In preparing for my December 2023 visit to Russia, I had hoped to be able to visit the four new Russian territories to see for myself what the truth was when it came to the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. I also wanted to interview the Russian military and civilian leadership to get a broader perspective of the conflict. I had reached out to the Russian Foreign and Defense ministries through the Russian Embassy in the US, bending the ear of both the Ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, and the Defense Attache, Major-General Evgeny Bobkin, about my plans.

    While both men supported my project and wrote recommendations back to their respective ministries in this regard, the Russian Defense Ministry, which had the final say over what happened in the four new territories, vetoed the idea. This veto was not because they didn’t like the idea of me writing an in-depth analysis of the conflict from the Russian perspective, but rather that the project as I outlined it, which would have required sustained access to frontline units and personnel, was deemed too dangerous. In short, the Russian Defense Ministry did not relish the idea of me being killed on its watch.

    Under normal circumstances, I would have backed off. I had no desire to create any difficulty with the Russian government, and I was always cognizant of the reality that I was a guest in the country.

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    The last thing I wanted to be was a “war tourist,” where I put myself and others at risk for purely personal reasons. But I also felt strongly that if I were going to continue to provide so-called “expert analysis” about the military operation and the geopolitical realities of Novorossiya and Crimea, then I needed to see these places firsthand. I strongly believed that I had a professional obligation to see the new territories. Fortunately for me, Aleksandr Zyryanov, a Crimea native and director general of the Novosibirsk Region Development Corporation, agreed.

    It wasn’t going to be easy.

    We first tried to enter the new territories via Donetsk, driving west out of Rostov-on-Don. However, when we arrived at the checkpoint, we were told that the Ministry of Defense had not cleared us for entry. Not willing to take no for an answer, Aleksandr drove south, towards Krasnodar, and then – after making some phone calls – across the Crimean Bridge into Crimea. Once it became clear that we were planning on entering the new territories from Crimea, the Ministry of Defense yielded, granting permission for me to visit the four new Russian territories under one non-negotiable condition – I was not to go anywhere near the frontlines.

    We left Feodosia early on the morning of January 15, 2024. At Dzhankoy, in northern Crimea, we took highway 18 north toward the Tup-Dzhankoy Peninsula and the Chongar Strait, which separates the Sivash lagoon system that forms the border between Crimea and the mainland into eastern and western portions. It was here that Red Army forces, on the night of November 12, 1920, broke through the defenses of the White Army of General Wrangel, leading to the capture of the Crimean Peninsula by Soviet forces. And it was also here that the Russian Army, on February 24, 2022, crossed into the Kherson Region from Crimea.

    The Chongar Bridge is one of three highway crossings that connect Crimea with Kherson. It has been struck twice by Ukrainian forces seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines, once, in June 2023, when it was hit by British-made Storm Shadow missiles, and once again that August when it was hit by French-made SCALP missiles (a variant of the Storm Shadow.) In both instances, the bridge was temporarily shut down for repairs, evidence of which was clearly visible as we made our way across, and on to the Chongar checkpoint, where we were cleared by Russian soldiers for entry into the Kherson Region.

    At the checkpoint we picked up a vehicle carrying a bodyguard detachment from the reconnaissance company of the Sparta Battalion, a veteran military formation whose roots date back to the very beginning of the Donbass revolt against the Ukrainian nationalists who seized power in Kiev during the February 2014 Maidan coup. They would be our escort through the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions – even though we were going to give the frontlines a wide berth, Ukrainian “deep reconnaissance groups”, or DRGs, were known to target traffic along the M18 highway. Aleksandr was driving an armored Chevrolet Suburban, and the Sparta detachment had their own armored SUV. If we were to come under attack, our response would be to try and drive through the ambush. If that failed, then the Sparta boys would have to go to work.

    Our first destination was the city of Genichesk, a port city along the Sea of Azov. Genichesk is the capital of the Genichesk District of the Kherson Region and, since November 9, 2022, when Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson, it has served as the temporary capital of the region. Aleksandr had been on his phone since morning, and his efforts had paid off – I was scheduled to meet with Vladimir Saldo, the local Governor.

    RT

    Genichesk is – literally – off the beaten path. When we reached the town of Novoalekseyevka, we got off the M18 highway and headed east along a two-lane road that took us toward the Sea of Azov. There were armed checkpoints all along the route, but the Sparta bodyguards were able to get us waved through without any issues. But the effect of these checkpoints was chilling – there was no doubt that one was in a region at war.

    To call Genichesk a ghost town would be misleading – it is populated, and the evidence of civilian life is everywhere you look. The problem was, there didn’t seem to be enough people present. The city, like the region, is in a general state of decay, a holdover from the neglect it had suffered at the hands of a Ukrainian government that largely ignored territories that had, since 2004, voted in favor of the Party of Regions, the party of former President Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in the February 2014 Maidan coup. Nearly two years of war had likewise contributed to the atmosphere of societal neglect, an impression which was magnified by the weather – overcast, cold, with a light sleet blowing in off the water.

    As we made our way into the building where the government of the Kherson Region had established its temporary offices, I couldn’t help but notice a statue of Lenin in the courtyard. Ukrainian nationalists had taken it down in July 2015, but the citizens of Genichesk had reinstalled it in April 2022, once the Russians had taken control of the city. Given Putin’s feeling about the role Lenin played in creating Ukraine, I found both the presence of this monument, and the role of the Russian citizens of Genichesk in restoring it, curiously ironic.

    Vladimir Saldo is a man imbued with enthusiasm for his work. A civil engineer by profession, with a PhD in economics, Saldo had served in senior management positions in the “Khersonbud” Project and Construction Company before moving on into politics, serving on the Kherson City Council, the Kherson Regional Administration, and two terms as the mayor of the city of Kherson. Saldo, as a member of the Party of Regions, moved to the opposition and was effectively subjected to political ostracism in 2014, when the Ukrainian nationalists who had seized power all but forced it out of politics.

    Aleksandr and I had the pleasure of meeting with Saldo in his office in the government building in downtown Genichesk. We talked about a wide range of issues, including his own path from a Ukrainian construction specialist to his current position as the governor of Kherson Oblast.

    We talked about the war.

    But Saldo’s passion was the economy, and how he could help revive the civilian economy of Kherson in a manner that best served the interests of its diminished population. On the eve of the military operation, back in early 2022, the population of the Kherson Region stood at just over a million, of which some 280,000 were residing in the city of Kherson. By November 2022, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnieper River – including the city of Kherson – the population of the region had fallen below 400,000 and, with dismal economic prospects, the numbers kept falling. Many of those who left were Ukrainians who did not want to live under Russian rule. But others were Russians and Ukrainians who felt that they had no future in the war-torn region, and as such sought their fortunes elsewhere in Russia.

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    “My job is to give the people of Kherson hope for a better future,” Saldo told me. “And the time for this to happen is now, not when the war ends.”

    Restoration of Kherson’s once vibrant agricultural sector is a top priority, and Saldo has personally taken the lead in signing agreements for the provision of Kherson produce to Moscow supermarkets. Saldo has also turned the region into a special economic zone, where potential investors and entrepreneurs can receive preferential loans and financial support, as well as organizational and legal assistance for businesses willing to open shop there.

    The man responsible for making this vision a reality is Mikhail Panchenko, the Director of the Kherson Region Industry Development Fund. I met Mikhail in a restaurant located across the street from the governmental building which Saldo called home. Mikhail had come to Kherson in the summer of 2022, leaving a prominent position in Moscow in the process. “The Russian government was interested in rebuilding Kherson,” Mikhail told me, “and established the Industry Development Fund as a way of attracting businesses to the region.” Mikhail, who was born in 1968, was too old to enlist in the military. “When the opportunity came to direct the Industry Development Fund, I jumped at it as a way to do my patriotic duty.”

    The first year of the fund’s operation saw Mikhail hand out 300 million rubles (almost $3.3 million at the current rate) in loans and grants (some of which was used to open the very restaurant where we were meeting.) The second year saw the allotment grow to some 700 million rubles. One of the biggest projects was the opening of a concrete production line capable of producing 60 cubic meters of concrete per hour. Mikhail took Alexander and me on a tour of the plant, which had grown to three production lines generating some 180 cubic meters of concrete an hour. Mikhail had just approved funding for an additional four production lines, for a total concrete production rate of 420 cubic meters per hour.

    “That’s a lot of concrete,” I remarked to Mikhail.

    “We are making good use of it,” he replied. “We are rebuilding schools, hospitals, and government buildings that had been neglected over the years. Revitalizing the basic infrastructure a society needs if it is to nurture a growing population.”

    The problem Mikhail faces, however, is that most of the population growth being experienced in Kherson today comes from the military. The war can’t last forever, Mikhail noted. “Someday the army will leave, and we will need civilians. Right now, the people who left are not returning, and we’re having a hard time attracting newcomers. But we will keep building in anticipation of a time when the population of the Kherson region will grow from an impetus other than war. And for that,” he said, a twinkle in his eye, “we need concrete!”

    I thought long and hard about the words of Vladimir Saldo and Panchenko as Aleksandr drove back onto the M18 highway, heading northeast, toward Donetsk. The reconstruction efforts being undertaken are impressive. But the number that kept coming to mind was the precipitous decline in the population – more than 60% of the pre-war population has left the Kherson region since the Russian military operation began.

    According to statistics provided by the Russian Central Election Commission, some 571,000 voters took part in the referendum on joining Russia that was held in late September 2022. A little over 497,000, or some 87%, voted in favor, while slightly more than 68,800, or 12%, voted against. The turnout was almost 77%.

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    These numbers, if accurate, implied that there was a population of over 740,000 eligible voters at the time of the election. While the loss of the city of Kherson in November 2022 could account for a significant source of the population drop that took place between September 2022 and the time of my visit in January 2024, it could not account for all of it.

    The Russian population of Kherson in 2022 stood at approximately 20%, or around 200,000. One can safely say that the number of Russians who fled west to Kiev following the start of the military operation amounts to a negligible figure. If one assumes that the Russian population of the Kherson Region remained relatively stable, then most of the population decline came from the Ukrainian population.

    While Saldo did not admit to such, the Governor of the neighboring Zaporozhya Region, Yevgeny Balitsky, has acknowledged that many Ukrainian families deemed by the authorities to be anti-Russian were deported following the initiation of the military operation (Russians accounted for a little more than 25% of the pre-conflict Zaporozhye population.) Many others fled to Russia to escape the deprivations of war.

    Evidence of the war was everywhere to be seen. While the conflict in Kherson has stabilized along a line defined by the Dnieper River, Zaporozhye is very much a frontline region. Indeed, the main direction of attack of the summer 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive was from the Zaporozhye region village of Rabotino, toward the town of Tokmak, and on towards the temporary regional capital of Melitopol (the city of Zaporozhye has remained under Ukrainian control throughout the conflict to date.)

    I had petitioned to visit the frontlines near Rabotino but had been denied by the Russian Ministry of Defense. So, too, was my request to visit units deployed in the vicinity of Tokmak – too close to the front. The closest I would get would be the city of Melitopol, the ultimate objective of the Ukrainian counterattack. We drove past fields filled with the concrete “dragon’s teeth” and antitank ditches that marked the final layer of defenses that constituted the “Surovikin Line,” named after the Russian General, Sergey Surovikin, who had commanded the forces when the defenses were put in place.

    The Ukrainians had hoped to reach the city of Melitopol in a matter of days once their attack began; they never breached the first line of defense situated to the southeast of Rabotino.

    Melitopol, however, is not immune to the horrors of war, with Ukrainian artillery and rockets targeting it often to disrupt Russian military logistics. I kept this in mind as we drove through the streets of the city, past military checkpoints, and roving patrols. I was struck by the fact that the civilians I saw were going about their business, seemingly oblivious to the everyday reality of war that existed around them.

    As was the case in Kherson, the entirety of the Zaporozhye Region seemed strangely depopulated, as if one were driving through the French capital of Paris in August, when half the city is away on vacation. I had hoped to be able to talk with Balitsky about the reduced population and other questions I had about life in the region during wartime, but this time Aleksandr’s phone could not produce the desired result – Balitsky was away from the region and unavailable.

    If he had been available, I would have asked him the same question I had put to Saldo earlier in the day: given that Putin was apparently willing to return the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to Ukraine as part of the peace deal negotiated in March 2022, how does the population of his region feel about being part of Russia today? Are they convinced that Russia is, in fact, there to stay? Do they feel like they are a genuine part of the Novorossiya that Putin speaks about?

    Saldo had talked in depth about the transition from being occupied by Russian forces, which lasted until April-May 2022 (about the time that Ukraine backed out of the ceasefire agreement), to being administered by Moscow. “There never was a doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s, that Kherson was historically a part of Russia,” Saldo said, “or that, once Russian troops arrived, that we would forever be Russian again.”

    But the declining population, and the admission of forced deportations on the part of Balitsky, suggests that there was a significant part of the population that had, in fact, taken umbrage at such a future.

    I would have liked to hear what Balitsky had to say about this question.

    Reality, however, doesn’t deal with hypotheticals, and the present reality is that both Kherson and Zaporozhye are today part of the Russian Federation, and that both regions are populated by people who had made the decision to remain there as citizens of Russia. We will never know what the fate of these two territories would have been had the Ukrainian government honored the ceasefire agreement negotiated in March 2022. What we do know is that today both Kherson and Zaporozhye are part of the “New Territories” – Novorossiya.

    Russia will for some time find its acquisition of the “new territories” challenged by nations who question the legitimacy of Russia’s military occupation and subsequent absorption of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions into the Russian Federation. The reticence of foreigners to recognize these regions as being part of Russia, however, is the least of Russia’s problems. As was the case with Crimea, the Russian government will proceed irrespective of any international opposition.

    The real challenge facing Russia is to convince Russians that the new territories are as integral to the Russian motherland as Crimea, a region reabsorbed by Russia in 2014 which has seen its economic fortunes and its population grow over the past decade. The diminished demographics of Kherson and Zaporozhye represent a litmus test of sorts for the Russian government, and for the governments of both Kherson and Zaporozhye. If the populations of these regions cannot regenerate, then these regions will wither on the vine. If, however, these new Russian lands can be transformed into places where Russians can envision themselves raising families in an environment free from want and fear, then Novorossiya will flourish.

    Novorossiya is a reality, and the people who live there are citizens by choice more than circumstances. They are well served by men like Saldo and Balitsky, who are dedicated to the giant task of making these regions part of the Russian Motherland in actuality, not just in name.

    Behind Saldo and Balitsky are men like Panchenko, people who left an easy life in Moscow or some other Russian city to come to the “New Territories” not for the purpose of seeking their fortunes, but rather to improve the lives of the new Russian citizens of Novorossiya.



    For this to happen, Russia must emerge victorious in its struggle against the Ukrainian nationalists ensconced in Kiev, and their Western allies. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Russian military, this victory is in the process of being accomplished.

    Then the real test begins – turning Novorossiya into a place Russians will want to call home.


    ATTENTION READERS

    We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
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    About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
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    https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/03/scott-ritter-we-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-russia/


    https://telegra.ph/Scott-Ritter-We-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-Russia--VT-Foreign-Policy-03-11
    Scott Ritter: We are witnessing the bittersweet birth of a new Russia | VT Foreign Policy March 10, 2024 VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State. Tucker Carlson’s confused exasperation over Russian President Vladmir Putin’s extemporaneous history lesson at the start of their landmark February interview (which has been watched more than a billion times), underscored one realty. For a Western audience, the question of the historical bona fides of Russia’s claim of sovereign interest in territories located on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnieper River, currently claimed by Ukraine, is confusing to the point of incomprehension. Vladimir Putin, however, did not manufacture his history lesson from thin air. Anyone who has followed the speeches and writings of the Russian president over the years would have found his comments to Carlson quite familiar, echoing both in tone and content previous statements made concerning both the viability of the Ukrainian state from an historic perspective, and the historical ties between what Putin has called Novorossiya (New Russia) and the Russian nation. For example, on March 18, 2014, during his announcement regarding the annexation of Crimea, the president observed that “after the [Russian] Revolution [of 1917], for a number of reasons the Bolsheviks – let God judge them – added historical sections of the south of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic composition of the population, and these regions today form the south-east of Ukraine.” Later during a televised question-and-answer session, Putin declared that “what was called Novorossiya back in tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet Government. Why? Who knows? They were won by Potemkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.” Novorossiya isn’t just a construct of Vladimir Putin’s imagination, but rather a notion drawn from historic fact that resonated with the people who populated the territories it encompassed. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an abortive effort by pro-Russia citizens of the new Ukrainian state to restore Novorossiya as an independent region. Scott Ritter: Helping Crimea recover from decades of Ukrainian misrule is a tough but necessary challenge Read more Scott Ritter: Helping Crimea recover from decades of Ukrainian misrule is a tough but necessary challenge While this effort failed, the concept of a greater Novorossiya confederation was revived in May 2014 by the newly proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. But this effort, too, was short-lived, being put on ice in 2015. This, however, did not mean the death of the idea of Novorossiya. On February 21, 2022, Putin delivered a lengthy address to the Russian nation on the eve of his decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine as part of what he termed a Special Military Operation. Those who watched Tucker Carlson’s February 9, 2024, interview with Putin would have been struck by the similarity between the two presentations. While he did not make a direct reference to Novorossiya, the president did outline fundamental historic and cultural linkages which serve as the foundation for any discussion about the viability and legitimacy of Novorossiya in the context of Russian-Ukrainian relations. “I would like to emphasize,” Putin said, “once again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space. It is our friends, our relatives, not only colleagues, friends, and former work colleagues, but also our relatives and close family members. Since the oldest times,” Putin continued, “the inhabitants of the south-western historical territories of ancient Russia have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. It was the same in the 17th century, when a part of these territories [i.e., Novorossiya] was reunited with the Russian state, and even after that.” The Russian president set forth his contention that the modern state of Ukraine was an invention of Vladimir Lenin, the founding father of the Soviet Union. “Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy,” Putin stated, “and can be rightfully called ‘Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine’. He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents.” Putin went on to issue a threat which, when seen in the context of the present, proved ominously prescient. “And today the ’grateful progeny’ has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.” In September 2022 Putin followed through on this, ordering referendums in four territories (Kherson and Zaporozhye, and the newly independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) to determine whether the populations residing there wished to join the Russian Federation. All four did so. Putin has since then referred to these new Russian territories as Novorossiya, perhaps nowhere more poignantly that in June 2023, when he praised the Russian soldiers “who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya and for the unity of the Russian world.” The story of those who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya is one that I have wanted to tell for some time now. I have borne witness here in the United States to the extremely one-sided coverage of the military aspects of Russia’s military operation. Like many of my fellow analysts, I had to undertake the extremely difficult task of trying to parse out fact from an overwhelmingly fictional narrative. Nor was I helped in any way in this regard by the Russian side, which was parsimonious in the release of information that reflected its side of reality. In preparing for my December 2023 visit to Russia, I had hoped to be able to visit the four new Russian territories to see for myself what the truth was when it came to the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. I also wanted to interview the Russian military and civilian leadership to get a broader perspective of the conflict. I had reached out to the Russian Foreign and Defense ministries through the Russian Embassy in the US, bending the ear of both the Ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, and the Defense Attache, Major-General Evgeny Bobkin, about my plans. While both men supported my project and wrote recommendations back to their respective ministries in this regard, the Russian Defense Ministry, which had the final say over what happened in the four new territories, vetoed the idea. This veto was not because they didn’t like the idea of me writing an in-depth analysis of the conflict from the Russian perspective, but rather that the project as I outlined it, which would have required sustained access to frontline units and personnel, was deemed too dangerous. In short, the Russian Defense Ministry did not relish the idea of me being killed on its watch. Under normal circumstances, I would have backed off. I had no desire to create any difficulty with the Russian government, and I was always cognizant of the reality that I was a guest in the country. Western ‘expertise’ on the Ukraine conflict could lead the world to a nuclear disaster Read more Western ‘expertise’ on the Ukraine conflict could lead the world to a nuclear disaster The last thing I wanted to be was a “war tourist,” where I put myself and others at risk for purely personal reasons. But I also felt strongly that if I were going to continue to provide so-called “expert analysis” about the military operation and the geopolitical realities of Novorossiya and Crimea, then I needed to see these places firsthand. I strongly believed that I had a professional obligation to see the new territories. Fortunately for me, Aleksandr Zyryanov, a Crimea native and director general of the Novosibirsk Region Development Corporation, agreed. It wasn’t going to be easy. We first tried to enter the new territories via Donetsk, driving west out of Rostov-on-Don. However, when we arrived at the checkpoint, we were told that the Ministry of Defense had not cleared us for entry. Not willing to take no for an answer, Aleksandr drove south, towards Krasnodar, and then – after making some phone calls – across the Crimean Bridge into Crimea. Once it became clear that we were planning on entering the new territories from Crimea, the Ministry of Defense yielded, granting permission for me to visit the four new Russian territories under one non-negotiable condition – I was not to go anywhere near the frontlines. We left Feodosia early on the morning of January 15, 2024. At Dzhankoy, in northern Crimea, we took highway 18 north toward the Tup-Dzhankoy Peninsula and the Chongar Strait, which separates the Sivash lagoon system that forms the border between Crimea and the mainland into eastern and western portions. It was here that Red Army forces, on the night of November 12, 1920, broke through the defenses of the White Army of General Wrangel, leading to the capture of the Crimean Peninsula by Soviet forces. And it was also here that the Russian Army, on February 24, 2022, crossed into the Kherson Region from Crimea. The Chongar Bridge is one of three highway crossings that connect Crimea with Kherson. It has been struck twice by Ukrainian forces seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines, once, in June 2023, when it was hit by British-made Storm Shadow missiles, and once again that August when it was hit by French-made SCALP missiles (a variant of the Storm Shadow.) In both instances, the bridge was temporarily shut down for repairs, evidence of which was clearly visible as we made our way across, and on to the Chongar checkpoint, where we were cleared by Russian soldiers for entry into the Kherson Region. At the checkpoint we picked up a vehicle carrying a bodyguard detachment from the reconnaissance company of the Sparta Battalion, a veteran military formation whose roots date back to the very beginning of the Donbass revolt against the Ukrainian nationalists who seized power in Kiev during the February 2014 Maidan coup. They would be our escort through the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions – even though we were going to give the frontlines a wide berth, Ukrainian “deep reconnaissance groups”, or DRGs, were known to target traffic along the M18 highway. Aleksandr was driving an armored Chevrolet Suburban, and the Sparta detachment had their own armored SUV. If we were to come under attack, our response would be to try and drive through the ambush. If that failed, then the Sparta boys would have to go to work. Our first destination was the city of Genichesk, a port city along the Sea of Azov. Genichesk is the capital of the Genichesk District of the Kherson Region and, since November 9, 2022, when Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson, it has served as the temporary capital of the region. Aleksandr had been on his phone since morning, and his efforts had paid off – I was scheduled to meet with Vladimir Saldo, the local Governor. RT Genichesk is – literally – off the beaten path. When we reached the town of Novoalekseyevka, we got off the M18 highway and headed east along a two-lane road that took us toward the Sea of Azov. There were armed checkpoints all along the route, but the Sparta bodyguards were able to get us waved through without any issues. But the effect of these checkpoints was chilling – there was no doubt that one was in a region at war. To call Genichesk a ghost town would be misleading – it is populated, and the evidence of civilian life is everywhere you look. The problem was, there didn’t seem to be enough people present. The city, like the region, is in a general state of decay, a holdover from the neglect it had suffered at the hands of a Ukrainian government that largely ignored territories that had, since 2004, voted in favor of the Party of Regions, the party of former President Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in the February 2014 Maidan coup. Nearly two years of war had likewise contributed to the atmosphere of societal neglect, an impression which was magnified by the weather – overcast, cold, with a light sleet blowing in off the water. As we made our way into the building where the government of the Kherson Region had established its temporary offices, I couldn’t help but notice a statue of Lenin in the courtyard. Ukrainian nationalists had taken it down in July 2015, but the citizens of Genichesk had reinstalled it in April 2022, once the Russians had taken control of the city. Given Putin’s feeling about the role Lenin played in creating Ukraine, I found both the presence of this monument, and the role of the Russian citizens of Genichesk in restoring it, curiously ironic. Vladimir Saldo is a man imbued with enthusiasm for his work. A civil engineer by profession, with a PhD in economics, Saldo had served in senior management positions in the “Khersonbud” Project and Construction Company before moving on into politics, serving on the Kherson City Council, the Kherson Regional Administration, and two terms as the mayor of the city of Kherson. Saldo, as a member of the Party of Regions, moved to the opposition and was effectively subjected to political ostracism in 2014, when the Ukrainian nationalists who had seized power all but forced it out of politics. Aleksandr and I had the pleasure of meeting with Saldo in his office in the government building in downtown Genichesk. We talked about a wide range of issues, including his own path from a Ukrainian construction specialist to his current position as the governor of Kherson Oblast. We talked about the war. But Saldo’s passion was the economy, and how he could help revive the civilian economy of Kherson in a manner that best served the interests of its diminished population. On the eve of the military operation, back in early 2022, the population of the Kherson Region stood at just over a million, of which some 280,000 were residing in the city of Kherson. By November 2022, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnieper River – including the city of Kherson – the population of the region had fallen below 400,000 and, with dismal economic prospects, the numbers kept falling. Many of those who left were Ukrainians who did not want to live under Russian rule. But others were Russians and Ukrainians who felt that they had no future in the war-torn region, and as such sought their fortunes elsewhere in Russia. Fyodor Lukyanov: How does the Russia-Ukraine conflict end? Read more Fyodor Lukyanov: How does the Russia-Ukraine conflict end? “My job is to give the people of Kherson hope for a better future,” Saldo told me. “And the time for this to happen is now, not when the war ends.” Restoration of Kherson’s once vibrant agricultural sector is a top priority, and Saldo has personally taken the lead in signing agreements for the provision of Kherson produce to Moscow supermarkets. Saldo has also turned the region into a special economic zone, where potential investors and entrepreneurs can receive preferential loans and financial support, as well as organizational and legal assistance for businesses willing to open shop there. The man responsible for making this vision a reality is Mikhail Panchenko, the Director of the Kherson Region Industry Development Fund. I met Mikhail in a restaurant located across the street from the governmental building which Saldo called home. Mikhail had come to Kherson in the summer of 2022, leaving a prominent position in Moscow in the process. “The Russian government was interested in rebuilding Kherson,” Mikhail told me, “and established the Industry Development Fund as a way of attracting businesses to the region.” Mikhail, who was born in 1968, was too old to enlist in the military. “When the opportunity came to direct the Industry Development Fund, I jumped at it as a way to do my patriotic duty.” The first year of the fund’s operation saw Mikhail hand out 300 million rubles (almost $3.3 million at the current rate) in loans and grants (some of which was used to open the very restaurant where we were meeting.) The second year saw the allotment grow to some 700 million rubles. One of the biggest projects was the opening of a concrete production line capable of producing 60 cubic meters of concrete per hour. Mikhail took Alexander and me on a tour of the plant, which had grown to three production lines generating some 180 cubic meters of concrete an hour. Mikhail had just approved funding for an additional four production lines, for a total concrete production rate of 420 cubic meters per hour. “That’s a lot of concrete,” I remarked to Mikhail. “We are making good use of it,” he replied. “We are rebuilding schools, hospitals, and government buildings that had been neglected over the years. Revitalizing the basic infrastructure a society needs if it is to nurture a growing population.” The problem Mikhail faces, however, is that most of the population growth being experienced in Kherson today comes from the military. The war can’t last forever, Mikhail noted. “Someday the army will leave, and we will need civilians. Right now, the people who left are not returning, and we’re having a hard time attracting newcomers. But we will keep building in anticipation of a time when the population of the Kherson region will grow from an impetus other than war. And for that,” he said, a twinkle in his eye, “we need concrete!” I thought long and hard about the words of Vladimir Saldo and Panchenko as Aleksandr drove back onto the M18 highway, heading northeast, toward Donetsk. The reconstruction efforts being undertaken are impressive. But the number that kept coming to mind was the precipitous decline in the population – more than 60% of the pre-war population has left the Kherson region since the Russian military operation began. According to statistics provided by the Russian Central Election Commission, some 571,000 voters took part in the referendum on joining Russia that was held in late September 2022. A little over 497,000, or some 87%, voted in favor, while slightly more than 68,800, or 12%, voted against. The turnout was almost 77%. Sergey Poletaev: As the second anniversary of the Russia–Ukraine conflict approaches, who has the upper hand? Read more Sergey Poletaev: As the second anniversary of the Russia–Ukraine conflict approaches, who has the upper hand? These numbers, if accurate, implied that there was a population of over 740,000 eligible voters at the time of the election. While the loss of the city of Kherson in November 2022 could account for a significant source of the population drop that took place between September 2022 and the time of my visit in January 2024, it could not account for all of it. The Russian population of Kherson in 2022 stood at approximately 20%, or around 200,000. One can safely say that the number of Russians who fled west to Kiev following the start of the military operation amounts to a negligible figure. If one assumes that the Russian population of the Kherson Region remained relatively stable, then most of the population decline came from the Ukrainian population. While Saldo did not admit to such, the Governor of the neighboring Zaporozhya Region, Yevgeny Balitsky, has acknowledged that many Ukrainian families deemed by the authorities to be anti-Russian were deported following the initiation of the military operation (Russians accounted for a little more than 25% of the pre-conflict Zaporozhye population.) Many others fled to Russia to escape the deprivations of war. Evidence of the war was everywhere to be seen. While the conflict in Kherson has stabilized along a line defined by the Dnieper River, Zaporozhye is very much a frontline region. Indeed, the main direction of attack of the summer 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive was from the Zaporozhye region village of Rabotino, toward the town of Tokmak, and on towards the temporary regional capital of Melitopol (the city of Zaporozhye has remained under Ukrainian control throughout the conflict to date.) I had petitioned to visit the frontlines near Rabotino but had been denied by the Russian Ministry of Defense. So, too, was my request to visit units deployed in the vicinity of Tokmak – too close to the front. The closest I would get would be the city of Melitopol, the ultimate objective of the Ukrainian counterattack. We drove past fields filled with the concrete “dragon’s teeth” and antitank ditches that marked the final layer of defenses that constituted the “Surovikin Line,” named after the Russian General, Sergey Surovikin, who had commanded the forces when the defenses were put in place. The Ukrainians had hoped to reach the city of Melitopol in a matter of days once their attack began; they never breached the first line of defense situated to the southeast of Rabotino. Melitopol, however, is not immune to the horrors of war, with Ukrainian artillery and rockets targeting it often to disrupt Russian military logistics. I kept this in mind as we drove through the streets of the city, past military checkpoints, and roving patrols. I was struck by the fact that the civilians I saw were going about their business, seemingly oblivious to the everyday reality of war that existed around them. As was the case in Kherson, the entirety of the Zaporozhye Region seemed strangely depopulated, as if one were driving through the French capital of Paris in August, when half the city is away on vacation. I had hoped to be able to talk with Balitsky about the reduced population and other questions I had about life in the region during wartime, but this time Aleksandr’s phone could not produce the desired result – Balitsky was away from the region and unavailable. If he had been available, I would have asked him the same question I had put to Saldo earlier in the day: given that Putin was apparently willing to return the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to Ukraine as part of the peace deal negotiated in March 2022, how does the population of his region feel about being part of Russia today? Are they convinced that Russia is, in fact, there to stay? Do they feel like they are a genuine part of the Novorossiya that Putin speaks about? Saldo had talked in depth about the transition from being occupied by Russian forces, which lasted until April-May 2022 (about the time that Ukraine backed out of the ceasefire agreement), to being administered by Moscow. “There never was a doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s, that Kherson was historically a part of Russia,” Saldo said, “or that, once Russian troops arrived, that we would forever be Russian again.” But the declining population, and the admission of forced deportations on the part of Balitsky, suggests that there was a significant part of the population that had, in fact, taken umbrage at such a future. I would have liked to hear what Balitsky had to say about this question. Reality, however, doesn’t deal with hypotheticals, and the present reality is that both Kherson and Zaporozhye are today part of the Russian Federation, and that both regions are populated by people who had made the decision to remain there as citizens of Russia. We will never know what the fate of these two territories would have been had the Ukrainian government honored the ceasefire agreement negotiated in March 2022. What we do know is that today both Kherson and Zaporozhye are part of the “New Territories” – Novorossiya. Russia will for some time find its acquisition of the “new territories” challenged by nations who question the legitimacy of Russia’s military occupation and subsequent absorption of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions into the Russian Federation. The reticence of foreigners to recognize these regions as being part of Russia, however, is the least of Russia’s problems. As was the case with Crimea, the Russian government will proceed irrespective of any international opposition. The real challenge facing Russia is to convince Russians that the new territories are as integral to the Russian motherland as Crimea, a region reabsorbed by Russia in 2014 which has seen its economic fortunes and its population grow over the past decade. The diminished demographics of Kherson and Zaporozhye represent a litmus test of sorts for the Russian government, and for the governments of both Kherson and Zaporozhye. If the populations of these regions cannot regenerate, then these regions will wither on the vine. If, however, these new Russian lands can be transformed into places where Russians can envision themselves raising families in an environment free from want and fear, then Novorossiya will flourish. Novorossiya is a reality, and the people who live there are citizens by choice more than circumstances. They are well served by men like Saldo and Balitsky, who are dedicated to the giant task of making these regions part of the Russian Motherland in actuality, not just in name. Behind Saldo and Balitsky are men like Panchenko, people who left an easy life in Moscow or some other Russian city to come to the “New Territories” not for the purpose of seeking their fortunes, but rather to improve the lives of the new Russian citizens of Novorossiya. For this to happen, Russia must emerge victorious in its struggle against the Ukrainian nationalists ensconced in Kiev, and their Western allies. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Russian military, this victory is in the process of being accomplished. Then the real test begins – turning Novorossiya into a place Russians will want to call home. ATTENTION READERS We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion. About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT. https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/03/scott-ritter-we-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-russia/ https://telegra.ph/Scott-Ritter-We-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-Russia--VT-Foreign-Policy-03-11
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    Scott Ritter: We are witnessing the bittersweet birth of a new Russia
    Building Novorossiya back up after Ukrainian neglect and war is a monumental but unavoidable task
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  • Covid mRNA Vaccines Required No Safety Oversight
    Debbie Lerman
    When everyone from the President to your primary care doctor declared loudly and wholeheartedly in December 2020 that the newly FDA-authorized Covid mRNA vaccines were “safe and effective” – what were those claims based on?

    In this article, I will review the contractual and regulatory framework applied by the US government to the initial development, manufacture, and acquisition of the Covid mRNA shots. I will use the BioNTech/Pfizer agreements to illustrate the process.

    The analysis will show that:

    The Covid mRNA vaccines were acquired and authorized through mechanisms designed to rush medical countermeasures to the military during emergencies involving weapons of mass destruction.
    These mechanisms did not require the application of, or adherence to, any laws or regulations related to vaccine development or manufacturing.
    The FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines was based on clinical trials and manufacturing processes conducted with no binding legal standards, no legally proscribed safety oversight or regulation, and no legal redress from the manufacturer for potential harms. (This last point is being challenged in multiple court cases, so far to no avail.)
    What all of this means is that none of the laws or regulations that we count on to protect us from potentially harmful, or deadly, medical products was applied to the Covid mRNA vaccines. The assertion of “safe and effective” was based entirely on aspirations, opinions, beliefs, and presumptions of government employees.

    In Part 1 of this article I will provide a summary of the main contractual and legal points and explain how they excluded any requirements for regulatory oversight. In Part 2, I will go through a detailed analysis of the underlying documentation.

    Contractual Framework for Covid mRNA Vaccines

    When the US government entered into its Covid vaccine agreement with Pfizer, which was acting on behalf of the BioNTech/Pfizer partnership, in July 2020, the agreement encompassed a minimum of 100 million doses of a “vaccine to prevent COVID-19” and a payment of at least $1.95 billion. The agreement also allowed for future procurement of hundreds of millions of additional doses.

    That’s a lot of money for a lot of items, especially since the vaccines had not yet been tested, approved, or manufactured to scale and, as the agreement stated, were purely “aspirational.”

    Obviously, this is not normal procedure. But, then, those were not normal times. The government declared that we were “at war” with a catastrophically dangerous virus that would kill millions and millions of people of all ages unless we could develop “medical countermeasures” (a military term) and get everyone to take them as quickly as possible.

    In keeping with the declaration of war, it was a military framework that was used for acquiring the aspirational products that became known as Covid mRNA vaccines.

    Military Acquisition

    The government side to the agreement with Pfizer was the Department of Defense (DoD), represented by a convoluted chain of parties, each operating as a subcontractor, or co-contractor, for the next.

    You’ll find details about the role of each of these military procurement groups in Part 2 of this article. The important point to recognize is that all of these bodies are charged exclusively with military objectives: “ensuring military readiness,” “enhancing the mission effectiveness of military personnel,” and “supporting the Army and Unified Land Operations, anytime, anywhere.”

    This is crucial, because the laws and procedures governing military procurement have a very different set of assumptions and cost-benefit considerations than those used in civil society.

    In fact, agencies governing civilian and public health, like the NIH, NIAID and HHS, do not have the authority to grant certain types of special acquisition contracts, which is why the Covid vaccine contracts had to be overseen by the Department of Defense.

    Thus, HHS “partnered” with DoD to “leverage DoD’s OTA authorities … which HHS lacked.” [ref]

    What are “OTA authorities?”

    Other Transaction Authority/Agreement (OTA)

    (NOTE: OTA is used interchangeably to refer to Other Transaction Agreement and Other Transaction Authority.)

    The OTA is a procurement method that, according to Department of Defense guidelines, has been used since 1958 to “permit a federal agency to enter into transactions other than contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements.”

    What types of transactions are we talking about?

    First and foremost, the OTA acquisition structure “operates outside the Federal Acquisition Regulations.” This means no federal laws related to government purchases apply to OTAs. Such laws generally involve things like ensuring competition, accounting standards, cost management, record-keeping and labor practices. For purchases of medical products, they also include things like oversight of research on human subjects and privacy laws.

    Why is it a good idea to bypass all these acquisition regulations? For the military, OTAs can provide “access to state-of-the-art technology solutions from traditional and non-traditional defense contractors.” More specifically, according to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), OTAs are designed to “avoid many of the hurdles that scare away private industry,” including “burdensome regulations.”

    The second defining aspect of OTAs is that they apply to projects that are

    …directly relevant to enhancing the mission effectiveness of personnel of the Department of Defense or improving platforms, systems, components, or materials proposed to be acquired or developed by the Department of Defense, or to improvement of platforms, systems, components, or materials in use by the armed forces.

    In other words, OTA is not a pathway for government acquisitions primarily intended for civilian populations.

    In fact, from the time of OTA inception in 1958 until Covid, the vast majority of OTAs were awarded for weapons, military supplies, and information technologies. For example, in an overview from 2013-2018, the top OTAs dealt with underwater weapons, ground vehicles, rocket propulsion systems, and “technologies related to the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or the information that rides on it.”

    What About OTAs for Medical Products?

    In 2015, DoD announced the establishment of the CBRN Medical Countermeasure Consortium, whose purpose was to use the OTA acquisition pathway to “work with DoD to develop FDA licensed chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear medical countermeasures.”

    Broadly speaking, this included “prototype technologies for therapeutic medical countermeasures targeting viral, bacterial, and biological toxin targets of interest to the DoD.” Furthermore, such technologies could include “animal models of viral, bacterial or biological toxin disease and pathogenesis, assays, diagnostic technologies, or other platform technologies.”

    Note that there is a mention of FDA licensing, which means a medical product cannot be purchased through OTA without any FDA involvement. The extent of that involvement will be discussed in the section on Regulations below.

    But before we get to the FDA, just looking at what an OTA can be applied to, it does not look like manufacturing 100 million doses of anything is even in the ballpark.

    Pfizer’s Other Transaction Agreement (OTA)

    DoD can make three types of agreements under OTA: research, prototypes, and manufacturing. Importantly, according to National Defense Magazine, the agreements (which are “other than contracts”) are supposed to start with prototypes and then move “from prototypes to production contracts.” In other words, you start with an OTA for a prototype and then get an actual production contract.

    In contrast, the agreement between Pfizer and the US government, routed through the Department of Defense and the CBRN Medical Countermeasure Consortium, classified what Pfizer agreed to deliver as a “prototype project” and “manufacturing demonstration.” As stated in the agreement:

    The intent of this prototype project is to demonstrate that Pfizer has the business and logistics capability to manufacture 100M doses of its currently unapproved mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine for the Government [(b)(4) redaction]

    So the military acquisition branch of the government is paying Pfizer to show that it can manufacture 100 million doses of a never-before produced or tested product, while also acquiring those 100 million doses, and potentially hundreds of millions more. The “prototype” somehow includes not just the manufacturing process, but also the 100 million doses created through that process.

    Nowhere in the history of Other Transaction Agreements is there anything remotely resembling this conflation of a prototype (“a preliminary model of something,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary) and the manufacturing of millions of exemplars of that prototype. Actually, it is unclear from the wording of the OTA whether the “prototype” applies to the mRNA Covid vaccine, the mRNA platform for manufacturing the vaccine, the actual manufacturing of 100 million vaccines, or all of the above.

    Regulatory Framework for Covid mRNA Vaccines

    What about regulatory oversight of the development and manufacturing processes?

    For pharmaceutical products, like vaccines, this would include: 1) clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the products, and 2) compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure what is in each dose is actually what is supposed to be in each dose.

    Who is responsible for this type of oversight in the context of Pfizer’s OTA?

    Pfizer will meet the necessary FDA requirements for conducting ongoing and planned clinical trials, and with its collaboration partner, BioNTech, will seek FDA approval or authorization for the vaccine, assuming the clinical data supports such application for approval or authorization.

    What are the FDA requirements “for approval or authorization?”

    According to the Pfizer OTA, those requirements are whatever it takes to “grant an Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) under Section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

    In fact, the two regulations applied to the authorization of the Pfizer mRNA Covid vaccines were EUA and its partner, the PREP Act, which grants legal immunity from prosecution to anyone who has anything to do with the vaccines, unless they commit outright fraud.

    Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)

    EUA is a very special way to authorize a medical countermeasure in very specific types of emergencies. It was designed, according to the Department of Justice, to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against – among other CBRN agents – potential biowarfare/bioterror agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola, and plague.

    As explained in Harvard Law’s Bill of Health, “Ultimately, it was the War on Terror that would give rise to emergency use authorization.” The article continues,

    The record indicates that Congress was focused on the threat of bioterror specifically, not on preparing for a naturally-occurring pandemic.

    You can read about the details of EUA regulations in part 2 of this article. In summary, an Emergency Use Authorization can be granted by the Food and Drug Administration once the HHS and/or DoD have declared that there is an attack, threat of an attack, or national security threat created by a CBRN agent (a weapon of mass destruction).

    Significantly, as the Harvard Law article explains, EUA was not intended to cover brand-new vaccines:

    The only vaccine ever to have received an EUA prior to the current pandemic was AVA, an anthrax vaccine that had already been formally approved for other purposes.

    This is extremely important: EUA was meant for dire situations of warfare or terrorism, not to protect the entire population from naturally occurring pathogens. For this reason, EUA products do not require the type of legal safety oversight that is applied in civilian contexts by the FDA.

    And without adherence to legal safety standards in clinical trials and manufacturing, there is no way of knowing whether the products, in this case the Covid mRNA vaccines, are actually safe.

    No Legal or Regulatory Standards Apply to the FDA’s Decision to Grant EUA

    Here’s the kicker about EUA: because it was intended to be issued only in war and WMD-related emergencies, there are no legal requirements for how it is issued, beyond the determination of the FDA that such authorization is appropriate. No legal standards for how clinical trials are conducted. No laws regulating the manufacturing processes. Only “reasonable beliefs” based on whatever evidence is available to the FDA at the time that it makes its determination.

    This is how it is described in U.S. Code 360bbb-3, which covers EUA:

    Criteria for issuance of authorization

    An agent referred to in a declaration [by the HHS Secretary] can cause a serious or life-threatening disease or condition
    Based on the totality of scientific evidence available to the Secretary, including data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, if available, it is reasonable to believe that
    The product may be effective in diagnosing, treating or preventing such disease or condition
    The known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks, taking into consideration the material threat posed by the CBRN agent(s)
    There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product
    In Its EUA Guidance for Industry and Other Stakeholders, the FDA recommends that EUA applications contain information about clinical trials, manufacturing processes, potential risks, etc. Crucially, as stated at the top of every page, these are merely “nonbinding recommendations.”

    It’s up to the EUA applicant to decide what information to submit, and it’s up to the FDA to decide whether that information meets the “statutory requirements” (as stated above).

    PREP Act

    If you agree to develop, manufacture, and sell hundreds of millions of aspirational products to the government under the contract-like Other Transaction Agreement and bioterror-contingent Emergency Use Authorization, you need very good liability protection.

    This is provided by the PREP (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness) Act that was designed to go hand-in-hand with EUA. Again, it is possible to envision a bioterrorism scenario, like an anthrax attack, in which the government needs to get lots of countermeasures very quickly. Many people will inevitably die in the attack, but if there’s a chance that the countermeasure will work, it needs to get made and distributed as quickly as possible. If it has some bad side effects, or even if it kills some people, one could argue that the manufacturer should not be held liable.

    Clearly, this was never intended to apply to a new, untested vaccine used to counter a naturally occurring virus in hundreds of millions of people.

    What, then, are the standards for determining the necessity of a PREP Act declaration?

    Here’s how the Health and Human Services (HHS) website describes the factors considered by the HHS Secretary:

    In deciding whether to issue a PREP Act Declaration, HHS must consider the desirability of encouraging the design, development, clinical testing or investigation, manufacture, labeling, distribution, formulation, packaging, marketing, promotion, sale, purchase, donation, dispensing, prescribing, administering, licensing, and use of the countermeasure recommended in the Declaration. HHS may also consider other relevant factors.

    As with the EUA determination, there are no legally binding standards or directives for issuing a PREP Act. If the products made under EUA cause harm or death, no one involved in making or administering those products can be held accountable, as long as there is accompanying PREP Act protection.

    Conclusion

    The BioNTech/Pfizer Covid mRNA vaccines were authorized for use in the entire population of the United States based on the application of the following sequence of agreements and determinations:

    Department of Defense uses “contract-like” Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to buy aspirational products. DoD is not responsible for overseeing clinical trials or manufacturing. Pfizer is responsible for getting authorization from the FDA.
    The FDA is permitted to issue Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for mRNA vaccines because the HHS Secretary declares that there is an emergency that warrants EUA.
    FDA makes its EUA determination based on whatever evidence and considerations it feels are appropriate, given the emergency situation. There are no legal standards that apply to the FDA’s considerations, except that it believes the product may be effective, the benefits outweigh the risks based on available information, and there is no alternative product.
    The Health and Human Services Secretary grants total legal immunity through the PREP Act to anyone involved in developing, making, shipping, or administering the vaccines, based on his determination that there is an emergency that justifies this action.
    That’s what the “safe and effective” claim for the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid mRNA vaccines was based on in December 2020, when millions of people – including children and pregnant women – were mandated to take the injections. Objectors were ridiculed, silenced, ostracized, and fired. Harms and deaths were, and continue to be, covered up, uninvestigated, and uncounted.

    Questions About the Legality of the EUA for Covid mRNA Vaccines

    It sounds like something in this whole process must be illegal, right?

    So far, trying to charge pharmaceutical companies with wrongdoing related to Covid vaccines has failed, because the EUA + PREP combo means they were not required to apply any legal/regulatory standards to their clinical studies or manufacturing processes.

    But what about the government?

    Since the OTA, EUA, and PREP regulations are intended for use during a catastrophic CBRN emergency, we might ask ourselves: did the US government believe SARS-CoV-2 was an engineered potential bioweapon? Did the government use what we might consider an extra-legal (in civilian terms) acquisition and authorization process based on the assumption that the entire population was threatened by the equivalent of a bioterrorism or biowarfare attack? It sure seems like they did. And if so, did they have a legal obligation to inform the public of this situation in order to resort to the OTA and EUA procurement and authorization pathway?

    Moreover, even if the government considered Covid-19 to be a disease caused by a potential bioterror agent, how could the HHS Secretary justify an Emergency Use Authorization that required him to determine that “there is a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security” when it was known that Covid-19 was deadly almost exclusively in old and infirm populations?

    In December 2020 the following facts were known about Covid-19 without a reasonable doubt:

    The infection fatality rate (IFR) for the entire population was less than 1%.
    The IFR for anyone under 55 was 0.01% or lower.
    The IFR for children was near zero.
    [ref][ref][ref][ref][ref][ref]

    A disease that has significant potential to affect national security has to be very severe, especially in its effect on the military. Yet in December 2020 military-aged people were known to be at nearly no risk from Covid-19. And still the HHS Secretary determined that there was an emergency that warranted EUA for the mRNA vaccines. And all military personnel were mandated to get the injections.

    I hope that by publishing this information as widely as possible we can eventually find a way to demand some measure of accountability.

    Acknowledgements

    Sasha Latypova and Katherine Watt have been trying to draw attention to this shocking legal and regulatory framework for a long time. I am deeply grateful for, and indebted to, their in-depth research and tireless work to disseminate this information.

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Author

    Debbie Lerman, 2023 Brownstone Fellow, has a degree in English from Harvard. She is a retired science writer and a practicing artist in Philadelphia, PA.

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    https://brownstone.org/articles/covid-mrna-vaccines-required-no-safety-oversight/
    Covid mRNA Vaccines Required No Safety Oversight Debbie Lerman When everyone from the President to your primary care doctor declared loudly and wholeheartedly in December 2020 that the newly FDA-authorized Covid mRNA vaccines were “safe and effective” – what were those claims based on? In this article, I will review the contractual and regulatory framework applied by the US government to the initial development, manufacture, and acquisition of the Covid mRNA shots. I will use the BioNTech/Pfizer agreements to illustrate the process. The analysis will show that: The Covid mRNA vaccines were acquired and authorized through mechanisms designed to rush medical countermeasures to the military during emergencies involving weapons of mass destruction. These mechanisms did not require the application of, or adherence to, any laws or regulations related to vaccine development or manufacturing. The FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines was based on clinical trials and manufacturing processes conducted with no binding legal standards, no legally proscribed safety oversight or regulation, and no legal redress from the manufacturer for potential harms. (This last point is being challenged in multiple court cases, so far to no avail.) What all of this means is that none of the laws or regulations that we count on to protect us from potentially harmful, or deadly, medical products was applied to the Covid mRNA vaccines. The assertion of “safe and effective” was based entirely on aspirations, opinions, beliefs, and presumptions of government employees. In Part 1 of this article I will provide a summary of the main contractual and legal points and explain how they excluded any requirements for regulatory oversight. In Part 2, I will go through a detailed analysis of the underlying documentation. Contractual Framework for Covid mRNA Vaccines When the US government entered into its Covid vaccine agreement with Pfizer, which was acting on behalf of the BioNTech/Pfizer partnership, in July 2020, the agreement encompassed a minimum of 100 million doses of a “vaccine to prevent COVID-19” and a payment of at least $1.95 billion. The agreement also allowed for future procurement of hundreds of millions of additional doses. That’s a lot of money for a lot of items, especially since the vaccines had not yet been tested, approved, or manufactured to scale and, as the agreement stated, were purely “aspirational.” Obviously, this is not normal procedure. But, then, those were not normal times. The government declared that we were “at war” with a catastrophically dangerous virus that would kill millions and millions of people of all ages unless we could develop “medical countermeasures” (a military term) and get everyone to take them as quickly as possible. In keeping with the declaration of war, it was a military framework that was used for acquiring the aspirational products that became known as Covid mRNA vaccines. Military Acquisition The government side to the agreement with Pfizer was the Department of Defense (DoD), represented by a convoluted chain of parties, each operating as a subcontractor, or co-contractor, for the next. You’ll find details about the role of each of these military procurement groups in Part 2 of this article. The important point to recognize is that all of these bodies are charged exclusively with military objectives: “ensuring military readiness,” “enhancing the mission effectiveness of military personnel,” and “supporting the Army and Unified Land Operations, anytime, anywhere.” This is crucial, because the laws and procedures governing military procurement have a very different set of assumptions and cost-benefit considerations than those used in civil society. In fact, agencies governing civilian and public health, like the NIH, NIAID and HHS, do not have the authority to grant certain types of special acquisition contracts, which is why the Covid vaccine contracts had to be overseen by the Department of Defense. Thus, HHS “partnered” with DoD to “leverage DoD’s OTA authorities … which HHS lacked.” [ref] What are “OTA authorities?” Other Transaction Authority/Agreement (OTA) (NOTE: OTA is used interchangeably to refer to Other Transaction Agreement and Other Transaction Authority.) The OTA is a procurement method that, according to Department of Defense guidelines, has been used since 1958 to “permit a federal agency to enter into transactions other than contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements.” What types of transactions are we talking about? First and foremost, the OTA acquisition structure “operates outside the Federal Acquisition Regulations.” This means no federal laws related to government purchases apply to OTAs. Such laws generally involve things like ensuring competition, accounting standards, cost management, record-keeping and labor practices. For purchases of medical products, they also include things like oversight of research on human subjects and privacy laws. Why is it a good idea to bypass all these acquisition regulations? For the military, OTAs can provide “access to state-of-the-art technology solutions from traditional and non-traditional defense contractors.” More specifically, according to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), OTAs are designed to “avoid many of the hurdles that scare away private industry,” including “burdensome regulations.” The second defining aspect of OTAs is that they apply to projects that are …directly relevant to enhancing the mission effectiveness of personnel of the Department of Defense or improving platforms, systems, components, or materials proposed to be acquired or developed by the Department of Defense, or to improvement of platforms, systems, components, or materials in use by the armed forces. In other words, OTA is not a pathway for government acquisitions primarily intended for civilian populations. In fact, from the time of OTA inception in 1958 until Covid, the vast majority of OTAs were awarded for weapons, military supplies, and information technologies. For example, in an overview from 2013-2018, the top OTAs dealt with underwater weapons, ground vehicles, rocket propulsion systems, and “technologies related to the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or the information that rides on it.” What About OTAs for Medical Products? In 2015, DoD announced the establishment of the CBRN Medical Countermeasure Consortium, whose purpose was to use the OTA acquisition pathway to “work with DoD to develop FDA licensed chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear medical countermeasures.” Broadly speaking, this included “prototype technologies for therapeutic medical countermeasures targeting viral, bacterial, and biological toxin targets of interest to the DoD.” Furthermore, such technologies could include “animal models of viral, bacterial or biological toxin disease and pathogenesis, assays, diagnostic technologies, or other platform technologies.” Note that there is a mention of FDA licensing, which means a medical product cannot be purchased through OTA without any FDA involvement. The extent of that involvement will be discussed in the section on Regulations below. But before we get to the FDA, just looking at what an OTA can be applied to, it does not look like manufacturing 100 million doses of anything is even in the ballpark. Pfizer’s Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) DoD can make three types of agreements under OTA: research, prototypes, and manufacturing. Importantly, according to National Defense Magazine, the agreements (which are “other than contracts”) are supposed to start with prototypes and then move “from prototypes to production contracts.” In other words, you start with an OTA for a prototype and then get an actual production contract. In contrast, the agreement between Pfizer and the US government, routed through the Department of Defense and the CBRN Medical Countermeasure Consortium, classified what Pfizer agreed to deliver as a “prototype project” and “manufacturing demonstration.” As stated in the agreement: The intent of this prototype project is to demonstrate that Pfizer has the business and logistics capability to manufacture 100M doses of its currently unapproved mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine for the Government [(b)(4) redaction] So the military acquisition branch of the government is paying Pfizer to show that it can manufacture 100 million doses of a never-before produced or tested product, while also acquiring those 100 million doses, and potentially hundreds of millions more. The “prototype” somehow includes not just the manufacturing process, but also the 100 million doses created through that process. Nowhere in the history of Other Transaction Agreements is there anything remotely resembling this conflation of a prototype (“a preliminary model of something,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary) and the manufacturing of millions of exemplars of that prototype. Actually, it is unclear from the wording of the OTA whether the “prototype” applies to the mRNA Covid vaccine, the mRNA platform for manufacturing the vaccine, the actual manufacturing of 100 million vaccines, or all of the above. Regulatory Framework for Covid mRNA Vaccines What about regulatory oversight of the development and manufacturing processes? For pharmaceutical products, like vaccines, this would include: 1) clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the products, and 2) compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure what is in each dose is actually what is supposed to be in each dose. Who is responsible for this type of oversight in the context of Pfizer’s OTA? Pfizer will meet the necessary FDA requirements for conducting ongoing and planned clinical trials, and with its collaboration partner, BioNTech, will seek FDA approval or authorization for the vaccine, assuming the clinical data supports such application for approval or authorization. What are the FDA requirements “for approval or authorization?” According to the Pfizer OTA, those requirements are whatever it takes to “grant an Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) under Section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” In fact, the two regulations applied to the authorization of the Pfizer mRNA Covid vaccines were EUA and its partner, the PREP Act, which grants legal immunity from prosecution to anyone who has anything to do with the vaccines, unless they commit outright fraud. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) EUA is a very special way to authorize a medical countermeasure in very specific types of emergencies. It was designed, according to the Department of Justice, to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against – among other CBRN agents – potential biowarfare/bioterror agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola, and plague. As explained in Harvard Law’s Bill of Health, “Ultimately, it was the War on Terror that would give rise to emergency use authorization.” The article continues, The record indicates that Congress was focused on the threat of bioterror specifically, not on preparing for a naturally-occurring pandemic. You can read about the details of EUA regulations in part 2 of this article. In summary, an Emergency Use Authorization can be granted by the Food and Drug Administration once the HHS and/or DoD have declared that there is an attack, threat of an attack, or national security threat created by a CBRN agent (a weapon of mass destruction). Significantly, as the Harvard Law article explains, EUA was not intended to cover brand-new vaccines: The only vaccine ever to have received an EUA prior to the current pandemic was AVA, an anthrax vaccine that had already been formally approved for other purposes. This is extremely important: EUA was meant for dire situations of warfare or terrorism, not to protect the entire population from naturally occurring pathogens. For this reason, EUA products do not require the type of legal safety oversight that is applied in civilian contexts by the FDA. And without adherence to legal safety standards in clinical trials and manufacturing, there is no way of knowing whether the products, in this case the Covid mRNA vaccines, are actually safe. No Legal or Regulatory Standards Apply to the FDA’s Decision to Grant EUA Here’s the kicker about EUA: because it was intended to be issued only in war and WMD-related emergencies, there are no legal requirements for how it is issued, beyond the determination of the FDA that such authorization is appropriate. No legal standards for how clinical trials are conducted. No laws regulating the manufacturing processes. Only “reasonable beliefs” based on whatever evidence is available to the FDA at the time that it makes its determination. This is how it is described in U.S. Code 360bbb-3, which covers EUA: Criteria for issuance of authorization An agent referred to in a declaration [by the HHS Secretary] can cause a serious or life-threatening disease or condition Based on the totality of scientific evidence available to the Secretary, including data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, if available, it is reasonable to believe that The product may be effective in diagnosing, treating or preventing such disease or condition The known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks, taking into consideration the material threat posed by the CBRN agent(s) There is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product In Its EUA Guidance for Industry and Other Stakeholders, the FDA recommends that EUA applications contain information about clinical trials, manufacturing processes, potential risks, etc. Crucially, as stated at the top of every page, these are merely “nonbinding recommendations.” It’s up to the EUA applicant to decide what information to submit, and it’s up to the FDA to decide whether that information meets the “statutory requirements” (as stated above). PREP Act If you agree to develop, manufacture, and sell hundreds of millions of aspirational products to the government under the contract-like Other Transaction Agreement and bioterror-contingent Emergency Use Authorization, you need very good liability protection. This is provided by the PREP (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness) Act that was designed to go hand-in-hand with EUA. Again, it is possible to envision a bioterrorism scenario, like an anthrax attack, in which the government needs to get lots of countermeasures very quickly. Many people will inevitably die in the attack, but if there’s a chance that the countermeasure will work, it needs to get made and distributed as quickly as possible. If it has some bad side effects, or even if it kills some people, one could argue that the manufacturer should not be held liable. Clearly, this was never intended to apply to a new, untested vaccine used to counter a naturally occurring virus in hundreds of millions of people. What, then, are the standards for determining the necessity of a PREP Act declaration? Here’s how the Health and Human Services (HHS) website describes the factors considered by the HHS Secretary: In deciding whether to issue a PREP Act Declaration, HHS must consider the desirability of encouraging the design, development, clinical testing or investigation, manufacture, labeling, distribution, formulation, packaging, marketing, promotion, sale, purchase, donation, dispensing, prescribing, administering, licensing, and use of the countermeasure recommended in the Declaration. HHS may also consider other relevant factors. As with the EUA determination, there are no legally binding standards or directives for issuing a PREP Act. If the products made under EUA cause harm or death, no one involved in making or administering those products can be held accountable, as long as there is accompanying PREP Act protection. Conclusion The BioNTech/Pfizer Covid mRNA vaccines were authorized for use in the entire population of the United States based on the application of the following sequence of agreements and determinations: Department of Defense uses “contract-like” Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to buy aspirational products. DoD is not responsible for overseeing clinical trials or manufacturing. Pfizer is responsible for getting authorization from the FDA. The FDA is permitted to issue Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for mRNA vaccines because the HHS Secretary declares that there is an emergency that warrants EUA. FDA makes its EUA determination based on whatever evidence and considerations it feels are appropriate, given the emergency situation. There are no legal standards that apply to the FDA’s considerations, except that it believes the product may be effective, the benefits outweigh the risks based on available information, and there is no alternative product. The Health and Human Services Secretary grants total legal immunity through the PREP Act to anyone involved in developing, making, shipping, or administering the vaccines, based on his determination that there is an emergency that justifies this action. That’s what the “safe and effective” claim for the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid mRNA vaccines was based on in December 2020, when millions of people – including children and pregnant women – were mandated to take the injections. Objectors were ridiculed, silenced, ostracized, and fired. Harms and deaths were, and continue to be, covered up, uninvestigated, and uncounted. Questions About the Legality of the EUA for Covid mRNA Vaccines It sounds like something in this whole process must be illegal, right? So far, trying to charge pharmaceutical companies with wrongdoing related to Covid vaccines has failed, because the EUA + PREP combo means they were not required to apply any legal/regulatory standards to their clinical studies or manufacturing processes. But what about the government? Since the OTA, EUA, and PREP regulations are intended for use during a catastrophic CBRN emergency, we might ask ourselves: did the US government believe SARS-CoV-2 was an engineered potential bioweapon? Did the government use what we might consider an extra-legal (in civilian terms) acquisition and authorization process based on the assumption that the entire population was threatened by the equivalent of a bioterrorism or biowarfare attack? It sure seems like they did. And if so, did they have a legal obligation to inform the public of this situation in order to resort to the OTA and EUA procurement and authorization pathway? Moreover, even if the government considered Covid-19 to be a disease caused by a potential bioterror agent, how could the HHS Secretary justify an Emergency Use Authorization that required him to determine that “there is a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security” when it was known that Covid-19 was deadly almost exclusively in old and infirm populations? In December 2020 the following facts were known about Covid-19 without a reasonable doubt: The infection fatality rate (IFR) for the entire population was less than 1%. The IFR for anyone under 55 was 0.01% or lower. The IFR for children was near zero. [ref][ref][ref][ref][ref][ref] A disease that has significant potential to affect national security has to be very severe, especially in its effect on the military. Yet in December 2020 military-aged people were known to be at nearly no risk from Covid-19. And still the HHS Secretary determined that there was an emergency that warranted EUA for the mRNA vaccines. And all military personnel were mandated to get the injections. I hope that by publishing this information as widely as possible we can eventually find a way to demand some measure of accountability. Acknowledgements Sasha Latypova and Katherine Watt have been trying to draw attention to this shocking legal and regulatory framework for a long time. I am deeply grateful for, and indebted to, their in-depth research and tireless work to disseminate this information. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Author Debbie Lerman, 2023 Brownstone Fellow, has a degree in English from Harvard. She is a retired science writer and a practicing artist in Philadelphia, PA. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/covid-mrna-vaccines-required-no-safety-oversight/
    BROWNSTONE.ORG
    Covid mRNA Vaccines Required No Safety Oversight ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines was based on clinical trials and manufacturing processes conducted with no binding legal standards, no legally proscribed safety oversight or regulation, and no legal redress from the manufacturer for potential harms. (This last point is being challenged in multiple court cases, so far to no avail.)
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  • Fauci Tried to Hide U.S. Funding of Bioweapons Research, But China Openly Bragged About ‘New Era of Genetic Weapons’
    Dr. Anthony Fauci funneled tens of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to bioweapons research, including experiments conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci and other U.S. government officials continue to deny such experiments are related to the development of bioweapons, but China openly admits that its scientists are using gain-of-function research to create “genetic weapons.”

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
    anthony fauci gain function covid wuhan feature
    Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.

    Editor’s note: Following is an excerpt from Robert F. Kennedy’s new book, “The Wuhan Cover-Up: And the Terrifying Bioweapons Arms Race.” The book, published Dec. 5, is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

    Following Obama’s 2014 moratorium [on gain-of-function research], China’s efforts to co-opt NIH’s [National Institutes of Health] bioweapons research were so successful that some forty-four percent of all the gain-of-function studies that NIH had historically funded occurred at the Wuhan lab.

    And as discussed previously, many of those NIH studies occurred under contract provisions that granted China proprietary and exclusive use of the resulting research.

    It is an understatement, therefore, to observe that Dr. [Anthony] Fauci was not a good steward of US taxpayer research dollars. Furthermore, tens of millions of US dollars in funding from USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and other US government agencies have exacerbated the ferment of bioweapons research in Wuhan.

    Since the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) only thinly veils its links to the People’s Liberation Army, both Dr. Fauci and Dr. [Peter] Daszak and the spooks at USAID must have known that the WIV is the centerpiece of China’s biowarfare/biodefense program.

    The State Department issued a fact sheet in May 2020 revealing that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in a national strategy of “military-civil fusion” intended to eliminate barriers between civilian research and the Chinese military “in order to achieve military dominance.”

    As Elaine Dewar told Paul Thacker, “Since Xi Jinping became President, he made it clear that the military and the civilian researchers in strategic areas, such as biotechnology, had to work together. There was no distinction between civilian and military research, from that point forward.”

    No one can hold high positions or conduct research at the WIV without being closely involved with, and supervised by, the military. Until late 2019, the Wuhan BSL-4 lab’s manager was Dr. Yuan Zhiming, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Committee within the Wuhan Branch.

    On January 31, 2020, Pengbai—China’s state-run news outlet—reported that “People’s Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Chen Wei, took over the response to the epidemic,” including “supervision of the WIV.” Dr. Chen is a virologist who “leads the Institute of Bioengineering at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and [is presumptive] head of biological warfare division.”

    As noted earlier, Pengbai described the general as “our nation’s ultimate expert” in biological and chemical weapon defenses, and “a goddess of war.” Her other nickname is the “Wolf Warrior.”

    In contrast to Dr. Fauci’s coy reticence, the Chinese are bracingly frank in acknowledging that their gain-of-function dabbling is straight-up weapons development.

    In 2015, only two years after Chinese scientists used funding from NIAID and techniques they learned from Ralph Baric to triumphantly facilitate a deadly chimeric bird flu, Chinese military scientists from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and senior Chinese public health officials published a 261-page Chinese-language military manual.

    The manual’s publisher is the Chinese Military Medical Science Press—a government-owned publishing house managed by the General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The book described Chinese success at artificially manipulating animal coronaviruses to infect humans as the herald of a promising “new era of genetic weapons.”

    The 2015 book offers alarming insight into how senior scientists at one of the PLA’s most prominent military universities were thinking about the gain-of-function research that Tony Fauci was already financing in their laboratories. Their thoughts align perfectly with the bioweapons ambitions for gain-of-function science that Ralph Baric unveiled in his 2007 paper.

    The Chinese authors giddily proclaim their ability to enhance the military effectiveness of their new GOF pathogens using major advances in bioweapon delivery systems—including freeze-drying microorganisms—that make germ bombs easier to store, transport, conceal, and aerosolize.

    A section describing strategies for maximizing impacts of biological attacks recommends the deployment of lab-generated pandemic germ bombs during dawn, dusk, night, or cloudy weather to minimize the weakening effects of intense sunlight on the pathogens. Stable wind direction and dry weather—the manual says—are ideal for delivering biobombs, since rain or snow can cause the aerosol particles to precipitate.

    The book advises that favorable climate conditions will allow the Chinese military to float the toxins into the target zone. The authors boast that, in addition to psychological terror, widespread morbidity, and mass casualties, large-scale biological weapon attacks can cause many indirect consequences, including the destruction of target economies, sudden surges of patients disrupting hospitals and healthcare systems, and long-term stress leading to increased chronic mental illness—events all too familiar to Americans these days.

    The editor-in-chief of this book, Xu Dezhong, is “a retired professor of infectious disease with the Air Force Medical University in Xian.” A military epidemiologist, Dezhong received the gold medal of the Military Academy Education Award, and praise as an outstanding party member. He did postdoctoral study in the US at Peter Hotez’s Baylor College of Medicine and at the CDC.

    He led the SARS epidemic analysis expert group under the Chinese Ministry of Health, reporting to the top leadership of the Chinese military commission and the health ministry during the 2003 SARS crisis.

    By 2020, Chinese military researchers, after benefitting from years of NIAID- and USAID-funded research, were developing pandemic coronaviruses that could quickly spread across global populations and were not the least bit embarrassed about it. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, Chinese scientists were publicly peacocking these expanding capacities.

    In April 2020, seven months after COVID-19 began circulating, twenty-three Chinese scientists—eleven of them from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the Chinese army’s medical research institute—boasted that they had used gene-editing CRISPR technology to engineer mice with humanized lungs to make it easier to develop coronavirus strains that could infect humans. In June 2021, Vanity Fair reported that United States National Security Council (NSC) investigators determined that “it became clear that the mice had been engineered sometime in the summer of 2019, before the pandemic even started.

    The NSC officials were left wondering: Had the Chinese military been running viruses through humanized mouse models, to see which might be infectious to humans?” Those particular US officials had not yet grasped that this was precisely the sort of research that Dr. Fauci—along with his US military and intelligence agency partners—had been conducting and funding for years at the Wuhan lab. US scientists had developed humanized mice in 2002. NIH-funded scientists like Ralph Baric had been using humanized mice to test human infectiousness of their enhanced pathogens for nearly two decades!

    The Defender on occasion posts content related to Children’s Health Defense’s nonprofit mission that features Mr. Kennedy’s views on the issues CHD and The Defender regularly cover. In keeping with Federal Election Commission rules, this content does not represent an endorsement of Mr. Kennedy, who is on leave from CHD and is seeking the Independent party nomination for president of the U.S.


    https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/anthony-fauci-bioweapons-research-covid-wuhan-cover-up/
    Fauci Tried to Hide U.S. Funding of Bioweapons Research, But China Openly Bragged About ‘New Era of Genetic Weapons’ Dr. Anthony Fauci funneled tens of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to bioweapons research, including experiments conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci and other U.S. government officials continue to deny such experiments are related to the development of bioweapons, but China openly admits that its scientists are using gain-of-function research to create “genetic weapons.” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. anthony fauci gain function covid wuhan feature Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free. Editor’s note: Following is an excerpt from Robert F. Kennedy’s new book, “The Wuhan Cover-Up: And the Terrifying Bioweapons Arms Race.” The book, published Dec. 5, is available from Amazon and other booksellers. Following Obama’s 2014 moratorium [on gain-of-function research], China’s efforts to co-opt NIH’s [National Institutes of Health] bioweapons research were so successful that some forty-four percent of all the gain-of-function studies that NIH had historically funded occurred at the Wuhan lab. And as discussed previously, many of those NIH studies occurred under contract provisions that granted China proprietary and exclusive use of the resulting research. It is an understatement, therefore, to observe that Dr. [Anthony] Fauci was not a good steward of US taxpayer research dollars. Furthermore, tens of millions of US dollars in funding from USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and other US government agencies have exacerbated the ferment of bioweapons research in Wuhan. Since the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) only thinly veils its links to the People’s Liberation Army, both Dr. Fauci and Dr. [Peter] Daszak and the spooks at USAID must have known that the WIV is the centerpiece of China’s biowarfare/biodefense program. The State Department issued a fact sheet in May 2020 revealing that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in a national strategy of “military-civil fusion” intended to eliminate barriers between civilian research and the Chinese military “in order to achieve military dominance.” As Elaine Dewar told Paul Thacker, “Since Xi Jinping became President, he made it clear that the military and the civilian researchers in strategic areas, such as biotechnology, had to work together. There was no distinction between civilian and military research, from that point forward.” No one can hold high positions or conduct research at the WIV without being closely involved with, and supervised by, the military. Until late 2019, the Wuhan BSL-4 lab’s manager was Dr. Yuan Zhiming, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Committee within the Wuhan Branch. On January 31, 2020, Pengbai—China’s state-run news outlet—reported that “People’s Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Chen Wei, took over the response to the epidemic,” including “supervision of the WIV.” Dr. Chen is a virologist who “leads the Institute of Bioengineering at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and [is presumptive] head of biological warfare division.” As noted earlier, Pengbai described the general as “our nation’s ultimate expert” in biological and chemical weapon defenses, and “a goddess of war.” Her other nickname is the “Wolf Warrior.” In contrast to Dr. Fauci’s coy reticence, the Chinese are bracingly frank in acknowledging that their gain-of-function dabbling is straight-up weapons development. In 2015, only two years after Chinese scientists used funding from NIAID and techniques they learned from Ralph Baric to triumphantly facilitate a deadly chimeric bird flu, Chinese military scientists from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and senior Chinese public health officials published a 261-page Chinese-language military manual. The manual’s publisher is the Chinese Military Medical Science Press—a government-owned publishing house managed by the General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The book described Chinese success at artificially manipulating animal coronaviruses to infect humans as the herald of a promising “new era of genetic weapons.” The 2015 book offers alarming insight into how senior scientists at one of the PLA’s most prominent military universities were thinking about the gain-of-function research that Tony Fauci was already financing in their laboratories. Their thoughts align perfectly with the bioweapons ambitions for gain-of-function science that Ralph Baric unveiled in his 2007 paper. The Chinese authors giddily proclaim their ability to enhance the military effectiveness of their new GOF pathogens using major advances in bioweapon delivery systems—including freeze-drying microorganisms—that make germ bombs easier to store, transport, conceal, and aerosolize. A section describing strategies for maximizing impacts of biological attacks recommends the deployment of lab-generated pandemic germ bombs during dawn, dusk, night, or cloudy weather to minimize the weakening effects of intense sunlight on the pathogens. Stable wind direction and dry weather—the manual says—are ideal for delivering biobombs, since rain or snow can cause the aerosol particles to precipitate. The book advises that favorable climate conditions will allow the Chinese military to float the toxins into the target zone. The authors boast that, in addition to psychological terror, widespread morbidity, and mass casualties, large-scale biological weapon attacks can cause many indirect consequences, including the destruction of target economies, sudden surges of patients disrupting hospitals and healthcare systems, and long-term stress leading to increased chronic mental illness—events all too familiar to Americans these days. The editor-in-chief of this book, Xu Dezhong, is “a retired professor of infectious disease with the Air Force Medical University in Xian.” A military epidemiologist, Dezhong received the gold medal of the Military Academy Education Award, and praise as an outstanding party member. He did postdoctoral study in the US at Peter Hotez’s Baylor College of Medicine and at the CDC. He led the SARS epidemic analysis expert group under the Chinese Ministry of Health, reporting to the top leadership of the Chinese military commission and the health ministry during the 2003 SARS crisis. By 2020, Chinese military researchers, after benefitting from years of NIAID- and USAID-funded research, were developing pandemic coronaviruses that could quickly spread across global populations and were not the least bit embarrassed about it. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, Chinese scientists were publicly peacocking these expanding capacities. In April 2020, seven months after COVID-19 began circulating, twenty-three Chinese scientists—eleven of them from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the Chinese army’s medical research institute—boasted that they had used gene-editing CRISPR technology to engineer mice with humanized lungs to make it easier to develop coronavirus strains that could infect humans. In June 2021, Vanity Fair reported that United States National Security Council (NSC) investigators determined that “it became clear that the mice had been engineered sometime in the summer of 2019, before the pandemic even started. The NSC officials were left wondering: Had the Chinese military been running viruses through humanized mouse models, to see which might be infectious to humans?” Those particular US officials had not yet grasped that this was precisely the sort of research that Dr. Fauci—along with his US military and intelligence agency partners—had been conducting and funding for years at the Wuhan lab. US scientists had developed humanized mice in 2002. NIH-funded scientists like Ralph Baric had been using humanized mice to test human infectiousness of their enhanced pathogens for nearly two decades! The Defender on occasion posts content related to Children’s Health Defense’s nonprofit mission that features Mr. Kennedy’s views on the issues CHD and The Defender regularly cover. In keeping with Federal Election Commission rules, this content does not represent an endorsement of Mr. Kennedy, who is on leave from CHD and is seeking the Independent party nomination for president of the U.S. https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/anthony-fauci-bioweapons-research-covid-wuhan-cover-up/
    CHILDRENSHEALTHDEFENSE.ORG
    Fauci Tried to Hide U.S. Funding of Bioweapons Research, But China Openly Bragged About ‘New Era of Genetic Weapons’
    Dr. Anthony Fauci funneled tens of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to bioweapons research, including experiments conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci and other U.S. government officials continue to deny such experiments are related to the development of bioweapons, but China openly admits that its scientists are using gain-of-function research to create “genetic weapons.”
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  • FCA (Free Carrier) in Incoterms 2020
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #ExportCredit #ecommerce #ecommercebusiness #Bank #Incoterms2020 #Incoterms #ExWorks #FCA

    https://importexporttalk.com/fca-free-carrier-in-incoterms-2020/
    FCA (Free Carrier) in Incoterms 2020 #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #ExportCredit #ecommerce #ecommercebusiness #Bank #Incoterms2020 #Incoterms #ExWorks #FCA https://importexporttalk.com/fca-free-carrier-in-incoterms-2020/
    IMPORTEXPORTTALK.COM
    FCA Incoterms 2020
    FCA Incoterms 2020 basically indicates that the seller is in charge of delivering the products to a designated location, usually the carrier's facilities or another defined place. The risk passes from the seller to the consumer as soon as the items are turned over to the carrier.
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  • EXW (Ex Works) in Incoterms 2020
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #ExportCredit #ecommerce #ecommercebusiness #Bank #Incoterms2020 #Incoterms #ExWorks
    https://importexporttalk.com/exw-in-incoterms-2020/
    EXW (Ex Works) in Incoterms 2020 #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #ExportCredit #ecommerce #ecommercebusiness #Bank #Incoterms2020 #Incoterms #ExWorks https://importexporttalk.com/exw-in-incoterms-2020/
    IMPORTEXPORTTALK.COM
    EXW Incoterms 2020
    EXW Incoterms 2020 rule in the context of Incoterms 2020. Understanding and wisely selecting Incoterms, including EXW, are vital steps in ensuring the success of international trade transactions.
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  • Understanding Incoterms 2020 for Delivery of Goods
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #ExportCredit #ecommerce #ecommercebusiness #Bank #Incoterms2020 #Incoterms
    https://importexporttalk.com/understanding-incoterms-2020/
    Understanding Incoterms 2020 for Delivery of Goods #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #ExportCredit #ecommerce #ecommercebusiness #Bank #Incoterms2020 #Incoterms https://importexporttalk.com/understanding-incoterms-2020/
    IMPORTEXPORTTALK.COM
    Understanding Incoterms 2020 for Delivery of Goods
    Incoterms 2020 are essential in this dynamic environment. These widely accepted trade phrases offer a common vocabulary and structure for buyers and sellers
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  • How Triangular Shipments Streamline Global Trade
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit

    https://importexporttalk.com/triangular-shipments-global-trade/
    How Triangular Shipments Streamline Global Trade #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit https://importexporttalk.com/triangular-shipments-global-trade/
    IMPORTEXPORTTALK.COM
    How Triangular Shipments Streamline Global Trade
    Triangular shipments, often referred to as drop shipments or indirect shipments, are a logistical arrangement where a company in one country purchases goods from a supplier in a second country and ships them directly to a customer in a third country.
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  • Exploring the Art of Negotiating Export Bills

    #Import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #exportbill

    https://importexporttalk.com/exploring-the-art-of-negotiating-export-bills/
    Exploring the Art of Negotiating Export Bills #Import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit #exportbill https://importexporttalk.com/exploring-the-art-of-negotiating-export-bills/
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    Exploring the Art of Negotiating Export Bills
    In the dynamic realm of international trade, where deals span continents and economies, the art of negotiating export bills stands as a skill that can greatly
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  • How a Letter of Credit Secure International Transactions
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit

    https://importexporttalk.com/letter-of-credit-secure-transactions/
    How a Letter of Credit Secure International Transactions #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #MinistryofCommerce #logistics #letterofcredit https://importexporttalk.com/letter-of-credit-secure-transactions/
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    How a Letter of Credit Secure International Transactions
    In the intricate tapestry of global trade, where oceans separate partners and currencies fluctuate, the Letter of Credit stands as a beacon of trust and assurance.
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  • Credit Risk Management in Global Trade
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #logistics #logisticscompany #Loading #creditriskmanagement

    https://importexporttalk.com/credit-risk-management-in-global-trade/
    Credit Risk Management in Global Trade #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #logistics #logisticscompany #Loading #creditriskmanagement https://importexporttalk.com/credit-risk-management-in-global-trade/
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    Credit Risk Management in Global Trade
    One of the most critical aspects of these transactions is credit risk management in global trade. This risk stems from the possibility that the buyer might default on payment, leaving the seller with potential losses.
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  • The Bill of Exchange in Exports
    #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #billofexchange #MinistryofCommerce #logistics
    https://importexporttalk.com/the-bill-of-exchange-in-exports/
    The Bill of Exchange in Exports #import #export #importexport #importexportbusiness #billofexchange #MinistryofCommerce #logistics https://importexporttalk.com/the-bill-of-exchange-in-exports/
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    The Bill of Exchange in Exports
    One such instrument that plays a crucial role in facilitating trade payments is the Bill of Exchange. This financial document acts as a key player in managing risk, ensuring timely payments, and promoting trust between parties involved in cross-border commerce.
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